The code of yoga is codified in old Indian Scriptures called the Varaha Upanishads. The code includes right actions or practices that cause enlightenment. Patanjali, who summarized the Upanishads in 200 A.D., informs us that the practice of yoga has eight steps:

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  1. Yama– These are universal moral principles

  2. Niyama– Personal moral principles

  3. Asana – physical postures

  4. Pranayama– control of breath

  5. Pratyahara– control over the senses

  6. Dharana– perceptual awareness and concentration

  7. Dhyana– reflection on the divine

  8. Samadhi– union with the divine/god

Prior to the practice of Asana, are the practices of the Yamas and Niyamas which serve as an honest code and foundation for the practice of yoga. These are moral perfects to strive for and the idea is enhance the practice of these disciplines. A perfect practice of the Yamas or Niyamas is divinity itself.

There are Five Universal Morals or Yamas:

  1. Compassion / Love: called Ahimsa the practice of empathy for all living things including animals. Particular examples include a vegetarian diet plan, and not harming others by word, deed or believed.

  2. Truthfulness: sincerity along with being forthright in negotiations with others. This includes staying clear of chatter or slander.

  3. Generosity / Non-stealing: taking absolutely nothing that doesn’t belong to you and/or not controling situations or people to get more of something than is your reasonable share.

  4. Chastity: some texts analyze this as celibacy, others stress the importance of a reliable sex life. Examples of a reliable sex life could include not being promiscuous, speaking and dressing decently and preventing pornography.

  5. Non-hoarding / not being materialistic: don’t take more than you require and trust that the universe will certainly offer your requirements as they emerge.

There are 5 Personal Practices or Niyamas:

  1. Purity or tidiness of mind and body: keep the mind pure from negative ideas, keep the body clean of poisonous substances/practices, and maintain a clean environment.

  2. Contentment and appreciation: accept things as they’re in this minute and be grateful for all that’s great. Actively look for happiness and spread happiness to others.

  3. Wise direction of energy: use your very own heat or energy to cleanse yourself. This may also consist of atonement for misdeeds or acts of sacrifice such as quiting material possessions.

  4. Self-reflection: work to a more unbiased understanding of yourself and your ideas.

  5. Spiritual reflection and celebration: surrender yourself gladly to the divine.

There’s a reason that the Yamas and Niyamas appear before Asana in the 8 limbs of yoga. By exercising the yamas and niyamas we set the body and mind up for an improved asana practice. The yamas remind us not to damage ourselves and to honestly assess our abilities. The niyamas remind us to enjoy the practice and be grateful for what our bodies can achieve. Practice with pleasure and appreciation.