The Niyamas and the Ten Commandments
Something may seem familiar. Both the yamas and niyamas relate to one of the Ten Commandments. The niyamas are how we should treat ourselves. The five niyamas are: isvara pranidhana, saucha, svadhyaya, tapas, and samtosa.
The First Commandment is “I am the Lord your God you shall not have strange gods before me” which relates to isvara pranidhana meaning “surrender to God.” In surrendering to God, an individual denounces all other beings. These other beings can be other gods but also includes the idolatry of the perfect person. We cannot become focused on our outward appearance and lose sight on the cookie cutter image that our society wants us to be. We must surrender everything to God, our Creator, and take ourselves out of worldly disciplines.
The Second Commandment is “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” which corresponds to saucha, or “cleanliness,” typically by physical means. In keeping God’s name holy, an individual keeps his mouth clean of impurities.
The Third Commandment is “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” which relates to svadhyaya means “study of sacred scripture and of one’s self.” Every Sunday (give or take I guess) Catholics gather for mass. Here passages from the Bible are read, the priest interprets the scripture in his homily, and attendees self-reflect throughout the mass particularly after receiving the Eucharist. Catholics recite the Penitential Rite every mass as well confessing their sins to the congregation.
The Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother” mirrors tapas which means “spiritual discipline.” In the Church, there is an obligation to raise and educate your children as Catholic. Often the parental figure is seen as a disciplinarian. Being a Catholic parent, the responsibility is to guide a child spiritually. Going beyond the basics this coincides with the moral and ethics placed upon society. In fact, in the CCC, obligation to the government is under the Fourth Commandment.
The Ninth and Tenth Commandment reflects the remaining niyama. The Ninth Commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” and the Tenth is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” The last two Commandments relate to samtosa meaning “contentment.” The idea of contentment is defined as being happy with the things one has and not wishing for anything more. Coveting is rooted in not being grateful with what one is given.
Next week we will uncover the most familiar limb of yoga: the asanas. My first Catholicism and yoga workshop, "From Om to Amen" is taking place this Saturday, April 21 at Yoga Rouge. I hope to see you there!
Peace and Namaste,