Yama and Niyama in Yoga

Yama and Niyama are first two limbs of Patanjali`s Ashtanga Yoga. The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi.

Yama consists of five self-restraints for living peacefully in society and the environment.

1.       Ahimsa ( non-violence )

Just as one does not harm self; one should not harm the rest of creation too.

2.       Satya ( truth )

The mind should think thoughts of truth, the tongue should speak words of truth and the whole life should be based upon truth.

3.       Asteya ( non-stealing )

Asteya or non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner.

4.       Brahmacharya ( celibacy )

Patanjali lays stress on continence of the body, speech and mind. The moral aspects of Brahmacharya can be practiced in one`s daily living whether one is a bachelor or married and living the life of a householder.

5.       Aparigraha ( non-hoarding  )

One should not hoard or collect thing that one does not require or need to possess.

Niyama has five rules for one`s inner development.

1.       Shaucha ( purity )

Purity of body is essential for well-being; but more important than the physical cleansing of the body is the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride.

2.       Santosha ( contentment )

It is essential to develop the ability to withstand daily problems without being deeply affected, to be contented no matter what circumstances beset one.

3.       Tapas ( austerity )

Tapas mean a burning effort to achieve a definite goal in life. The wholehearted effort of character building may be regarded as a practice of tapas.

4.       Swadhyaya ( self-study )

Swadhyaya is the education of self. Practicing swadhyaya can make one able to read and write his own book of life.

5.       Ishwara pranidhana (surrender to divine )

Ishwara pranidhana means to surrender one`s actions to God, the supreme consciousness, existence  or whatever name one has for that; which drives one through life.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

Yoga Practitioner


About drmcpanda

Dr. Mahesh Chandra Panda, M.B.B.S.,M.D. Date of Birth:29.02.1948 Retd. (29.02.2008) Chief District Medical Officer Bargarh Orissa India
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14 Responses to Yama and Niyama in Yoga

  1. Vinod Varma says:

    Quite informative.

  2. Satya says:

    Yamas and Niyamas are the basic building blocks to manav dharma.

    In the olden days Ashtanga Yoga, the Eightfold paths of Yoga were followed in sequence: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranamaya, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.

    The schools of yoga would qualify the practitioners after successful incorporation of Yamas, social codes and Niyamas, personal disciplines. They were known as Raja Yogis.

    But with passage of time emphasis shifted to physical aspect and the practitioners were allowed to practice asanas and pranayamas even before sharpening their foundation with Yamas and Niyamas.

    At Dhrti, we believe in continuing with the traditional learning of incorporating Yamas and Niyamas along with other limbs. Practitioners choose one yama and one niyama, which they feel is closely associated to them and set an achievable target to working on it.

    All of us can practice yama and niyama in our daily life, choose one from each; observe in daily behaviour, thought, action, have a spiritual diary, recapitulate the day’s happening at night, grade from 1 to 10; thus we will see a positive change in our personality.

  3. Very informative article.

    These are basic facts to live a healthy, peaceful and successful life.

    Every rule has some bearing on individual, his society and hence world.

    Basic rules are followed by individuals according to their own personalities and circumstances.

    Collective effects of people`s efforts lead to developments and evolution.

    Basic rules, if truly understood and followed; are helpful to the individual in building a strong personality.

  4. Prakash Padhan says:

    Thank you for posting the article Yama & Niyama which are entry steps of Astanga Yoga.

    Only Yogasana is not enough,unless & until mind is purified.

    Like both hardware as well as software are necessary for computer programme; coexistence of sound body & sound mind are necessasry for Yoga.

    I will take print out of this useful article and keep in my room.

  5. Susanta Kumar Panigrahi says:

    The Eight limbs of Yoga or Arya Astanga Marga enriched with all practices that are necessary for the Sadhak to gain health and vitality; to cultivate awareness and understanding; to gain insight into the deeper dimensions of their self; is the most overlooked aspect of Yoga today.

    Very useful topic.


  6. Chandra Kumar Panda says:


    The article published by you with regard to the different Yamas and Niyamas of human life really have a great impact on the body & mind.

    And it is the category of people who follows the Yamas and Niyamas (No doubt it is very difficut to follow on the part of lay man unless very much devotional), not only leads a happy & peaceful life; but at the same time loved by the Creator of the creation.

    I further learnt some of the meaning of such Yamas and Niyamas from your article & will try to be in the path as far as practicable according my temperament and mentality.

    My God bless you to be more & more closer among the people through such teaching & learning process.

    Yours Sincerely
    Chandra Kumar Panda

  7. Respected Panda Sir,

    Need more of your guidance to understand deeply regarding the elements.

    The elements may kindly be described briefly for half-known and unknown viewers.


    Gyana Ranjan Mohanty

    • drmcpanda says:

      Dear Gyana Ranjan,
      You may refer Introduction Chapter of the book Light on Yoga authored by B K S Iyengar & The System of Raja Yoga Chapter of the book Meditations from the Tantras authored by Swami Satyananda Saraswati for elaboration of the topic Yama and Niyama in Yoga.

  8. RAHUL says:

    Good morning,
    I am Rahul from Hyderabad India.

    I believe our rebirth is also on other planets as Aliens; in those planets Aliens life span is 1,000years,or 10,000years,or 100,000years.
    In those planets Aliens live without pollution(They use solar energy,not use petrol,diesel like us).
    They look so beautiful compared to us(not like as Hollywood film Aliens).

    God has created not only dirty world ,he also created good worlds for people who did good things in their past lives.
    If God is not there,then all planets,stars(suns),asteroids,black holes would have collapsed (crushed by accident).

    I think there is no Hell and Heaven; I think there is no ghost, because ghost would have destroyed our planet & universe.

    Only our past and present karma decide our Luck Good or Bad.

    Hence our karma should be based on Yama and Niyama in Yoga.

  9. V.Nageswara Rao says:

    Dear Sir,

    The Article Yama and Niyama is Very Informative, Specific Rules of Life essential to learn and practice to lead a healthy life.

    Thank You very much and Congratulations to write such a Nice Article to maintain the true values of Yoga and Spirituality.

    The Article is definitely useful for any one; but possibility of practicing completely depends on the particular individual based on his or her KAP ( Knowledge, Attitude and Practice) regarding Yama and Niyama.

    I would like to share this article with my Colleagues, Friends and Well Wishers.

  10. Pingback: Yoga in the West | Yoga and Spirituality

  11. Dr.Binod Bihari Naik says:


    Yama & Niyama: The platform of Yoga & Spirituality is maxim of Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali. At the outset it imparts how to modulate and trend at individual level & at last but not the least reflects at society level to sway the wave of yoga & spirituality. All should know rather realize that without yama no healthy society & without niyama no humanity. Yama controls violence at sensual level by ahimsa, at speech level by truth, at property level by asteya, at sexual & personality level by brahmacharya, and at all-sharing by aparigraha. By these social ethics when individual cultivates the five points of niyama step by step such as shaucha for body & mind, santosha for mind, tapas for stream line body & mind, swadhyaya for intellect & intuition, and at last Ishwarapranidhana for realization of atma to surrender to paramatma; the ultimum goal of Divine principle. These two wings must be mastered in learning curve of ashtanga yoga then one can enter to asana & pranayama for healthy body, pratyahara & dharana for control of mind, dhyana for guidance of intellect ,and samadhi for atma to surrender to paramatma a blissful ecstatic life of an individual to accomplish all Godly work in society.

    With Thanks,
    Your Divine Brother
    Dr.Binod Bihari Naik
    Bargarh Odisha

  12. Outstanding! A life style leading to perfection. It’s sad, people don’t like to to understand the essence because of their materialistic attachment and reluctance in spirituality as well as divine love.

  13. Purnima Panda says:

    Pranam kaka,

    The article is very informative.I had no idea about the Ashtanga Yoga. So thank u for the information and knowledge which is very useful and should be practiced in everyone`s life.

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