The second limb in the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga is Niyama. While the first limb, Yama, helps you be a better person with others, this second limb helps you work on your relationship with yourself. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the text that explains the limbs, includes five Niyamas, although you can find more in the Upanishads. Here are the five Niyamas highlighted in the Yoga Sutras:
- Saucha: This Niyama helps you make your body and mind pure. You are encouraged to eat healthily, keep your outer body clean and get rid of toxins by performing yoga poses, or Asanas. These actions cleanse the body, and you should also cleanse the mind through meditation.
- Santosa (or Samtosa): Santosa is about accepting the person you are and what you have in this world. It encourages you to go with the changes of life and to be happy with whatever life brings.
- Tapas: This Niyama involves creating a daily, ongoing practice to help you on the journey toward being your full self. This keeps the desire and commitment strong and helps you focus on what’s important. Tapas can include practices like yoga, meditation and fasting.
- Svadhyaya: Through Svadhyaya, you learn more about yourself and connect yourself with the rest of the world and with spirituality. You can read ancient texts to help you on your journey.
- Ishvara pranidhana: In this Niyama, you see yourself as part of something greater than you, whether your belief is in God or another explanation of it all. You see that you are a part of a whole and you give in to that wholeness (whatever it is for you).