Raja Yoga – Part 3

Happy Friday, Folks… 🙂

In my previous blogs, I wrote about:

Introduction to Raja Yoga

The First Limb of Raja Yoga, Yamas (Restraints)

Today, I am going to go over the Niyamas (Discipline).


‘Niyama’ literally represents ‘binding rules’ or ‘observances’ or ‘discipline’. These are all about self-regulation, helping us maintain a positive environment in which to grow. Practicing the Niyamas is said to give the yogi the inner strength, clarity and discipline that he/she needs in order to progress on his/her spiritual journey. These are disciplined and constructive and provide physical and mental foundation for our life.

According to Patanjali, there are five Niyamas and are described below.

Shaucha (Purity)

As the adage goes, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, this Niyama helps us in clearing away the negative physical and mental states of being.

  • Purity is of two types, outer and inner.
  • Outer / external purity can be gained through bathing and brushing and keeping all the body organs in healthy condition with the help of Neti, Dhauti etc.
  • The cleansing practices are divided into six major categories:
    o Neti
    o Dhouti
    o Basti
    o Trataka
    o Nouli
    o Kapalabhti
  • Inner purity can be achieved through recitation of mantras, prayer, that helps in purifying the feeling of egoism, fear, lust, anger and all other negative thoughts and emotions.
  • In the words of sage Manu,
    o water purifies the body;
    o truthfulness the mind;
    o true knowledge the intellect;
    o knowledge and austerity the soul.
  • So, Shaucha basically advocates the practice of intellectual purity, purity of speech and of the body.

Santosha (Contentment)

Santosha is contentment and acceptance of the world, oneself and the circumstances exactly as they are.

  • It is about not desiring more than what one has earned by one’s own efforts.
  • It is about maintaining equanimity through all that life offers.
  • It involves the practice of gratitude and joyfulness, maintaining the serene state of mind at all conditions.
  • Therefore, we can say when we cultivate contented feelings in our mind, the perpetual happiness is not far behind.
  • The key here is to realize that happiness isn’t in the external objects / situations. It depends on how we maintain the internal state of our mind irrespective of external conditions.

Tapas (Austerity)

Tapas is asceticism or intense self-discipline and willpower, even through discomfort. This shows us that doing something difficult / unpleasant can have a positive effect on one’s life and existence.

  • Tapas includes fasting, observing various vows, pranayama etc.
  • Practicing Tapas enables us to stand thirst and hunger, cold and heat, discomforts of place and postures, silent meditation, and ritual fasts.

Svadhyay (Self-Study / Self-Analysis)

According to the sage Vyasa, Svadhyay or self-study consists of scriptural studies. It the deeper sense, it also means self-analysis or introspection.

  • Study of scriptures life Vedas, Upanishads together with the recitation of Om and Gayathri Mantra leads us to analyze one’s own existence.
  • It means seeing / understanding who one is in the moment as well as exploring one’s connection with the Divine.
  • We tend to analyze and form opinions about others most of the time. This particular Nimaya urges us to look inward and correct ourselves before trying to find fault with others.

Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender / Devotion to God)

Ishvara Pranidhana is the dedication of all our actions, performed either by intellect, speech or body, to the Divine.

  • It means while believing in the existence of God and having faith in His Greatness, completely devote oneself to Him and do only what is approved by Him.
  • It is about living with an awareness of the Divine.
  • It helps in dissolving ego-focused desires, loosing the identity of the self and merging it that of Ishwara, the Almighty.
  • This practice may take many forms depending on the temperaments and previous Sanskaras / Vasanas that we are born with.

Summary of Niyamas

These Niyamas help us in managing our thoughts, feelings, and emotions in an integrated manner, complementing our outer life to the development of inner ambience by way of developing a self-discipline and controlling the senses so that we can respect the values of this life. Hence, Niyamas help us lead a meaningful, healthy, happy, contented, and conscious life.

16 thoughts on “Raja Yoga – Part 3

    1. Thanks for your comment, Marion Lumb.

      I feel anyone who is willing to work on self-transformation can do this. I would like to quote the great Saint Swami Vivekananda:
      “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.”

      My blog article, https://manjushamedley.wordpress.com/2020/02/18/tools-for-self-transformation/ talks about a few tools that have helped me and that continue to guide me on this journey.


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