A Mindfulness Practice to Calm Your Mind: Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas

A Mindfulness Practice to Calm Your Mind: Yoga’s Yamas and Niyamas

Feeling stressed, indecisive, self doubting? You might want to practice some Yamas and Niyamas – which are yoga’s mindfulness practices to calm your mind.

Best of all, you don’t need to put on yoga clothes or break a sweat to practice Yamas and Niyamas. Read on…

There are many days I feel like my mind is buzzing with lots of static. I feel overwhelmed, anxious, and low on energy and self love.

My solution?

I turn to yoga’s mindfulness practices – the Yamas and Niyamas.

Best of all, I don’t have to go to a yoga class for these mindfulness practices.

I can do them at my desk – without changing into yoga clothes – and while keeping my high heels on.

When I tell people about my “desk side yoga practice” – they are surprised.

A Mindfulness Practice to Calm Your Mind: Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas
A lot of people hear the word “yoga” – and they automatically think it’s only about lots of stretching into Gumby poses (aka doing asanas).

While stretching the body is a big part of a yoga practice, so is stretching who you are as a person.

In fact, according to  Patanjali,  author of the Yoga Sutras, stretching your soul, is job number one!

Meaning?

One of yoga’s key missions:

Gently guide you from mind-over-fulness to mindfulness.

Yoga Mindfulness Practices to Calm Your Mind: Yamas and Niyamas

Yes, yoga’s main mission is not to work out your body and give you buns of steel.

Yoga’s main mission is to serve as a mindfulness practice – with the goal of nudging you back into touch with that unique, beautiful soul residing inside of you –  a soul which is here on this planet to grow into its best and truest state of being.

With this in mind, there’s a whole area of yoga dedicated solely – and soully – to simply doing “soul stretches” – a yoga mindfulness area called the “10 Yamas and Niyamas.”

When I first learned about these 10 Yamas and Niyamas – in my ISHTA Yoga Teacher Training – I thought about how they reminded me of that famous book “The 4 Agreements.”

Mindfulness Practices to Calm Your Mind: Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas

Karen Salmansohn, author “Instant Calm”

Chances are you’ve heard of the awesome book “The 4 Agreements” by Don Miguel Ángel Ruiz.

I personally have a doggie earred copy of “The 4 Agreements” – which I re-re-re-read all the time.

Well, similarly to that book, these 10 Yamas and Niyamas represent the 5 do’s and 5 do not’s for living your happiest, highest potential life.

You are supposed to regularly enter into a meditative state – and think about these 10 Yamas and Niyamas – then mindfully contemplate which areas of your life you need to improve.

  • First I do a little meditation – to shush my busy chattering monkey mind – which is often at gorilla chattering level!
  • Next I contemplate the Yamas and Niyamas – and figure out which of these 10 I need to tweak – to help me to solve whatever conflicts or challenges I’m facing.

If you don’t know how to enter into a meditative state of mind, no worries, here’s some meditation techniques I personally use – which I turned into a helpful meditation guide book.

But first… here is a simple explanation of  the 10 Yamas and Niyamas.

The 5 Yamas are your “To Don’t List”:

When you avoid these 5 actions below, you help to deprogram how you’ve become accidentally programmed with limiting beliefs and habits.

Yoga Mindfulness Practices to Calm Your Mind: Yamas and Niyamas
1. ahimsa
: non-injury.

When you don’t injure (others or yourself),  you reach peace of mind.

2. satya: non-lying.

When you don’t lie (to others or yourself) you don’t confuse your mind, so you attain a clearer mind.

3. asteya: non-stealing.

When you don’t steal, you lessen your need  and addiction for things.

4. brahmacharya: non-excess.

When you don’t waste your “vital energy” on an excess of things, thoughts, and habits which are not helpful to your well being,  you can focus your energy on what matters most  – and move your energy to where it needs to go most.

5. aparigraha: non-hoarding.

When you stop feeling lack, living with an abundance mentality comes more easily.

Also, whenever you have possessions,  this means you’re responsible for taking care of them. As a result, the more stuff you have, the less free you are. When you don’t hoard, you become freer.

The 5 Nyamas are your “To Do List”:

The Niyamas represent 5 things that you should TRY to do.

When you practice these 5 actions below, you help to reprogram yourself – so that you can let go of limiting thoughts – all that static-filled vritti –  the fluctuations in your mind.

1. saucha: cleanliness. 

When you’re clean, you’re healthy in body and pure in mind.

2. santosha: contentment.

When you feel content with all you have/don’t have, you feel content with your karma and dharma (the circumstances you’re born into and face in your life – your one-of-kind “welcome to this planet puzzle of a gift” you’re meant to learn from and grow with!). When you’re content, you’re better able to focus on what you need to learn from your life experiences and stay open to new possibilities and new insights.

3. tapas: discipline.

When you are better able to master your mind – you’re better able to master your body, your energies, your thoughts, your challenges – thereby better able to master your karma, dharma and destiny.

4. svadhyaya: self-study.

When you start studying who you are on a unique soul level, you’re able to find out what it is you need to do – and what you need to give up – so that you can practice in a way that leads to evolving into your highest self.

ISHTA’s name actually comes from a great Sutra about this –  Sutra 2.44 – which says: “Svadhyaya ishta devata sampra yogaha.”  

Meaning?Through self-study you will find what you personally need.”

5. ishvara pranidhana:  letting go

This one is about letting go and connecting with the wisdom of the universe- and all which governs our universe!

Yoga Mindfulness Practices to Calm Your Mind: Yamas and Niyamas

Sri Swami Satchidananda,  a Yoga Sutras translator,  says that if you’re able to master this one, you’ll be able to attain “Samadhi” – the state of oneness – aka bliss – which is the final limb of yoga.

Ishvara pranidhana  is all about looking outside of yourself – surrendering to something bigger than yourself.

You know that expression: “Let go and let God”? That’s Ishvara pranidhana ! However, it doesn’t matter what you call it  (God,  Mother Nature,  Universal Energies, Spirit, Love Energies ) – it just matters that you call upon it- and let go of your need to control all that happens – and trust a greater plan is at work.

Okay… so those are all 10 of the Yamas and Niyamas.

Here’s how to use Yamas and Niyamas as a mindfulness practice.

  • Next time you’re feeling stressed,  turn to these 10 Yamas and Niyamas for guidance (Bookmark this article on your computer – so you can find this list quickly.)
  • Enter into a meditative state by becoming aware of your breath. If you need help with entering into a meditative state, try one of the many sensory meditations in my book, Instant Calm.
  • Read through these 10 Yamas and Niyamas – then select 1 to 3 of them – the ones which resonate most to you.
  • Think about how you can better work on these 1 – 3 areas – how you can “soul stretch” who you are as a person by improving any habits related to these 1 – 3 Yamas and Niyamas.
  • Don’t wait for stress to strike. Mindfully contemplate these Yamas and Yamas on a regular basis – as an essential part of a well-rounded yoga practice –  to ensure you are living your happiest, highest potential life.

Want to get more in touch with your truest and highest self? Create a regular meditation practice!

Think happier. Think calmer.

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