YOGI BOOKSHELF: YAMAS & NIYAMAS
Many of us yogis practice our asana practice regularly, but did you know there are more layers to what yoga is than just the physical practice? I recently started a book club for yogis to get together and read about the ethics of yoga and how to apply these practices off our mats, allowing us to live yoga as a lifestyle. The book we most recently finished was The Yamas and Niyamas Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice: by Deborah Adele.
Yoga has eight limbs (ashtanga). These limbs include
Some of these limbs may seem confusing since most of us have experience with only the first 3-5. I personally struggled with understanding the last 3 for I have not reached that point in my practice to understand them. The limbs are building blocks. We need to grasp the first one, before moving on to the second and so on. The first two limbs are ways we can better ourselves with how we interact with others and ourselves in our everyday life. This book covers the first two. These are practices we need to have off our mat before we even attempt to step into the asana practice.
The first half of the book covers the Yamas, which includes
Whether you practice yoga or not, Adele does a great job at breaking down these principles in a way that a modern day person can incorporate. Since these are ways to interact with those around you, you don’t need to be a yogi to hold these ethics or morality in how you interact with your fellow humans. She takes each word and breaks them down into the different ways to apply them within ourselves, with other humans, and within our environment.
The second half of the book goes over the Niyamas, this includes
This portion of the book is where you can either learn a lot about yourself or over analyze yourself fast. It lays out self-reflection in a way that allows for you to become in touch. I found myself having to stop and take breathers because some aspects hit a little close to home where I could better myself.
The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was at the end of each chapter, it gives you a month long exercise of things you can do to practice each week to incorporate that principle into your everyday life. My favorite exercise was for Saucha and it was to take an hour to eat an orange so you can start to pay full attention to the things we do and slow down our eating habits.
Adele has a way with words that allows me to pull some awesome quotes to use in yoga classes and personal mantras when I need them most. This book is also a quick and easy read and is a good book to reference when in need of a pick me up.
My only issue with the book surrounds around the idea of the use of god as a fixed term. In yoga, we use the terms the divine, god, the universe, spirit and many others to express a freedom of interpretation to the unique individuals experience. I wish I would have seen more of this broader term used throughout the book.
I have found myself incorporating this book into my everyday life as a teacher, as a student, and as a person in general. As a yoga teacher, I take these principles and utilize them to teach my students something on their mats that they can also take off their mats. As a student, I allow it to be an act of humbling and connection with myself and my fellow yogis on the mats next to me. Lastly, as a person, this book has allowed me to find a healthy connection with things around me and realize, my truth is not the full truth. As “The Buddhists say that the universe dies when you do because you have created your own little world of reality. “ (Adele 151).
Lastly, for anyone interested in getting involved with a group of fellow yogis to read more about yoga ethics and how they apply to a modern day yogi. We meet every other Wednesday at 7:30pm at Harvest House. For March 6th, we will be reading the introduction and first chapter to Do Your Om Thing by Rebecca Pacheco.
-Namaste, Michi P.
This passionate knowledge seeking teacher, started their yoga journey with karma a few years ago and after falling in love with the community of yoga completed their 200hr Teacher Training at Yoga from the Heart. They have been a Dentonite since 2014, graduated from TWU and runs community groups. With their trauma-informed certification, they emphasize trauma healing by sharing healing techniques to take yoga off the mat. Aside from yoga, they enjoy outdoor activities, reading and mix media art.