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Food for Thought: The Original Yamas and Niyamas

So, while reading the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I learned there were originally more than five yamas (ethical observances) and five niyamas (moral observances) practiced by yogis. The current trend is to focus on the streamlined list of five yamas and five niyamas noted in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I present these lists here not as a point of debate, but as a point of significant interest. The five yamas and niyamas offered by Patanjali can prove challenging for the most even tempered and dedicated yogis; however I believe taking time to contemplate and cultivate the original list in our practice might make life that much sweeter.



From: Slow Ashtanga at Home attributed to Wikipedia


Yama: Ahimsa Starts with Being Kind to You

Graphic Source:

Ahimsa is one of the yamas,  the ethical practices or restraints, yoga practitioners strive to exercise in their daily lives. This particular yama comes to mind as I follow the events in Ferguson, MO and New York City, at the University of Virginia, etc., and these are just things happening in the U.S.–the list of violent acts coming through my news feeds, seem endless. Reflecting on the nature and purpose of nonviolence seems pretty appropriate today on the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday.

♡ Nonviolence encompasses the way we behave toward others and ourselves. It includes our thoughts, our words and our deeds. The way we move through the world expresses and reflects who we are on the inside. Be kind to yourself and you will learn how to be kind to others.

♡Choosing nonviolence does not equal being a pushover. People who embrace nonviolence embrace the challenging and creative work of finding nonviolent solutions to difficult problems. Be kind to others and you will find progress and growth happening all around you–possibly with you leading the way.

♡Nonviolence like most virtues is a choice we make moment to moment and day to day. Shall I be angry? Shall I be calm? Shall I be sad? Shall I be happy? Shall I be critical? Shall I be helpful? Choose well. Be kind, because kindness leads us to compassion.