Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Next we’ll move on to a discussion of the Niyamas – the other half of the “ten commandments of yoga.” The Yamas are considered the “social” disciplines, while the Niyamas are the “individual” disciplines.

The first Niyama is Saucha, or purity. This is generally defined as purity of body, including good health habits and personal cleanliness. But it’s also about keeping one’s living space (alas, that includes the car) clean – the home, the desk, even the computer desktop. It applies to both the internal and the external.

And Saucha also extends out to one’s thoughts, words and deeds.

So I guess it’s not very yogic of me to drop the “f-bomb” repeatedly when I’m angry or stressed . . . Swearing is not exactly “purity of words.”

Some other things that wouldn’t be included in that category include: gossiping, lying (and telling half-truths), and guilt-tripping.

Getting control of one’s words can be a challenge, but harnessing one’s thoughts . . . even more difficult. But this is an essential thing to practice! What you think, what you say to yourself – these are powerful words. The more you say them, the more likely they are to come true.*

Good thoughts produce good actions. And not-so-good thoughts . . . well if you keep telling yourself you can’t do something, then you’ll probably never do it. Richard Bach wrote, “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” So true.

So how does this one apply to your yoga practice? Number one: come to class with a clean (well, clean-enough) body. You don’t have to shower right before class, but if – for example -- your feet are a little bit stinky (and summer’s the time for feet to be stinky, for sure!), then give ‘em a quick wash before you head out the door. Your classmates will appreciate it.

But more importantly, be aware of your thoughts as you go through your yoga practice. Are you telling yourself you can’t balance on one leg? Redirect those thoughts with something more empowering . . . even if it’s something like, “I can’t do dancer pose today, but tomorrow I will feel more confident about it.” You’ll see results.

* For some expert assistance in overcoming negative self-talk and the bad habits that are associated with it (smoking, overeating, lack of motivation, etc.) I highly recommend the services of Beth O’Connor, who has an office in Norwell. Find out more at

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