In simple words, the goal of yoga can be explained as the pursuit of mind control. Having defined the objectives, you may start your yoga journey with the signs left by Patanjali, the teacher who first formalized the teachings of yoga. According to Patanjali, yoga is like a ladder that leads to the summit, which as said before, is the ability to control mind, the barrier that separates us from our spiritual realization.
The first step of this ladder is learning the yamas and niyamas, which are moral precepts that prepare us to be worthy to request this hearing we are looking to God through yoga.
It seems important to pause at this point and clarify what we are doing when we decide to commit to the practice of yoga. It is crucial to understand that this is not a decision if I get into the kind of Pilates, spinning, or yoga, as we are talking about completely different disciplines, both from the point of view of objectives, and their level of commitment.
There is absolutely no bearing on achieving a yoga pose, or reach perfection, what it does have relevance in yoga is to reach the discipline of daily practice, and that’s what we work, reach our discipline which is obviously not an overnight task.
The yamas and niyamas provide moral requirements that must be met in order to qualify to get the objectives we are seeking through yoga. You must understand that these teachings are intended to point out areas of our daily behavior in which we work to achieve the desired objectives.
The Yamas are like commandments or moral principles which teach us to live a decent life, exposing the proper way to relate to those around us. These are;
- Ahimsa: Do no harm to other living either in thought or action.
- Satya: Do not lie, be honest.
- Asteya: Do not steal (material objects or intangibles, such as time), not coveting.
- Aparigraha: Do not be possessive, not to accumulate unnecessary items. Practicing detachment.
- Brahmacharya: Avoid lust, control sexual desire.
The Niyamas are personal observances that complement the Yamas;
- Saucha: Purity or cleaning our body, both external and internal.
- Santocha: Being happy to be alive. Being as humble, which does not mean conformity. Do not be materialistic, not pursue happiness through material objects.
- Tapas: Being austere, be disciplined. Set in its intention to implement a search for God rather than to the perfection of an asana.
- Swadhyara: study and education staff trying to find God in our hearts. Seeking God through the study of religious or spiritual writings.
- Ishwara-pranidhana: Surrender to God, abandonment of the ego. One way is to offer your actions to God without expecting anything in return (this is what is known as Karma Yoga, one of the most powerful yoga styles).