Niamas is the second limb of Ashtanga yoga of Maharshi Patanjali, the great sage incorporated five rules for ones personal practice to discipline oneself. A sadhaka has to purify physically and mentally to prepare himself in yogic path. Niyamas literally means rules, under It, Maharshi Patanjali states five different rules. He says Niyamas as " Sauchasantoshatapahswadhyayeshwarapranidhaanaani Niyamaha" means Saucha(cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), tapas ( Austerity) Swadhyaya ( Self study) Iswarapranidhanam( submission to the feet of Lord)
Saucha ( cleanliness)
Cleanliness simply means purity of ones own body, mind and senses , physical purity and mental purity is essential for a balanced life. Yogis life must be well balanced. Ancient times yogis mostly lived on the forest and closely connected with nature, lived in huts on river banks, river bank is most significant in spiritual journey, every rivers runs to it source, so to the yogis live a life to see the source of his being, more over availability of water for drinking and shaver and for other yogic kriyas. Yogis are suppose to get up before the Sunrise, after attending the nature call one should take bath is the first preparation. Water purification is most essential part of the body cleaning process, after excretion one is suppose to wash the anus with water and pure earth.Ancient yoga texts indicate one should use earth or clay to rub the body in the purification of the body, it's been practiced in ancient times. Five elements Shabda( sound), Sparsha (sense of touch ), Roopa ( fire ) Resa ( water) Gandha ( earth) constitutes our body. Purification only complete when a person purify ones inner faculties also. External and internal purification is aimed in yoga practices, environmental purification also essential part of the total purification.
Through charity and prayer one can cleanse ones inner faculties, charity should be given to the right cause. Charity also three kinds , sattvika daanam ( pure charity), in a right place, at a right time, to a right cause, given to a right person, without any intentions from the part of the givers considered as pure charity. Rajasika daanam ( that which offered in passion ) charity given with an intention of return, or looking for gains again and again, is considered as Rajasika daanam, taamasika daanam ( charity paid out of hypocrisy) charity given at wrong place and time, given ona wrong person, or a wrong cause, charity given with disrespect, is considered as tamasika daanam. of the three the first one is for the spiritual cause and inner purification. Right actions and right help to those needy also is a source of inner purification. Reaching our actions for the sake of ones own inner cleanliness. One has to get rid of ones own inner build ups from childhood, even what's is laying deeper into the unconscious such as jealousy, anger, ego , hatred, longings, greed, delusions etc. the most important and most difficult process of cleanliness is ones inner faculties. Body cleanliness is much effortless and easy in comparison with the inner cleanliness. Yoga sadhana mainly focuses on the inner realms of a human being. Later Gurus( teachers) of yoga further elaborated the inner body purifications into several categories. Hatha Yoga Pratiipika of Swami Swatmara yogi Classified the six purification, dhoti, basti, net, tratak, kapaalbhati, hauling, exercises mentioned in the later yoga manuals which we will discuss it separately in another article. There are many other yogis later elaborated the body purifications in their own ways. Yogic purification exercises are very elaborate and that can cleans the accumulated morbid toxins from our system. Cleanliness of all parts of the body develops more understanding of the reality of the body, mind and senses. Maharshi Patanjali says "Sauchatsvangajugupsa Parairasamsargaha" means in cleanliness of ones own body develops non attachment towards others. A person develops more clarity of the reality of the body by regular cleanliness, there is nothing to love in the body one understands. By regular practice of Saucha a sadha can achieve spontaneous distraction from others, cheerfulness, concentration, control of senses and inner clarity.
Samtosha ( contentment)
Samtosha is the second rule in the five Niyamas said in the Yoga Sutras. A sadhaka in the path of yoga should be happy and cheerful at all situations irrespective of the situations. Yoga sadhana cultivate more inner freedom and objectivity in ones life.
Contentment depends on ones inner dispositions, how a person sees the life situations, it need a lot of inner maturity and understanding. Ones exposure to yoga Shastras gives the inner depth and required maturity as well as happiness. Life situations are more unpleasant than pleasant. One has to cultivate more inner space to accommodate all kinds of situations in ones life. My means is ones inner freedom and maturity is the main key to the state of happiness in life. One should not come under the spell of elation or depression. No one want sadness in life, but all experiences different degrees of sadness in life. When a person uphold the values delineated in yoga shasters into ones life, and live with it , contentment would be the natural outcome. A healthy body also is a source of happiness, no one want physical pain. Yoga is so comprehensive that it deals with the basic person till his enlightenment . A person needs cognitive change and different approach in physical and mental actions. Happiness depends on ones inner growth, real growth is the inner growth. Keep eating the right food and the circumstances are favorable a body grows into adulthood. Human is totally different, inner maturity is the real growth of a human being. Human life is a mix of pleasant and unpleasant situations. How a person behave in a given situation depends on his total assimilation and absorption of values in life. We all looking for pleasant situations and happiness in life, it's not always true, we can't avoid the unpleasant situations also, it comes without asking us. We need a well balanced inner dispositions to accommodate both and grow inside to see and respond objectively in all situations. We may need more appropriate actions than reactions, mostly people react to unpleasant situations, the first step would mostly a reaction, rather if do double or three step responses to unpleasant situations would give a person more inner space, inner freedom and inner wisdom to act more objectively. How objectively one look into into ones life and how effectively and wisely one deals with them with out coming under the pressure of the situations. A thinker is one who think about the consequences of an action before he do it . Every actions produces visible and invisible result, if we don't need unpleasant situations in our life, we must do our actions wisely. Yoga Shastras says what ever, may it be pleasant or unpleasant comes into ones life, one should gracefully accept it as its. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishnan says , "prasadesarvadhukhaanaamhanihi" by the graceful acceptance of what ever comes one could be happy always. This is the tradition in Indian that people goes to the temple and do prayer at the alter, the priest offer them Prasada( offerings-there is no equallent word in English, it can be anything fruit,vermilion, sandal paste or flowers or even leaves or mere water ) one should accept gracefully whatever comes, that's the attitude. This attitude is important in ones day today life situations also. What we cannot change we should accept as its, live the life cheerful and pleasant at evry moment. A fully contented person who understands the truth of ones existence, all momentary happiness is subject to time, place and situations, so they are limited. The nature of the body is limited but the nature of the in dwelling atma ( consciousness) is limitless. My very nature is limitless so the total is not different from me, by knowing this a person being aware of the fact that the the person is fully well secured and contended by the very nature. Maharshi Patanjali says "Santosadanuttamasukhalabhah" unparalleled happiness gain by the practice of samtosha (contentment) in life.