In part one of this blog post I shared how Patanajli’s yoga sutras can support us in in times of lockdown and social isolation. I hope you found it useful, inspiring and insightful. In part two we’ll be unpacking the Niyamas in relation to self-care in todays world.
As a reminder, the Patanjali’s yoga sutras we’re looking at are the Yamas and Niyamas, which form a foundation to assist in cultivating a more present and aware state of being. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a collection of Sanskrit sutras or aphorisms on the theory and practice of yoga that was compiled somewhere between 200 BCE to 400 CE.
Patanjali lists five Niyamas, these translate to positive responsibilities or observances. They maybe seen as healthy habits for living a spiritual conscious existence. They’re traditionally practices concerned with ourselves, although we can think of them as affecting the outside world too.
Here’s my personal translation of the Niyamas to help support your physical, spiritual and mental state of wellbeing in todays world in reference to self-care.
Saucha / Cleanliness
Not only does this relate to personal hygiene but also the cleanliness of your mind by not buying into the fear mongering mentality which could be flooding your news feed. A daily routine of having a shower and putting on clean clothes gives a sense of purpose and boosts your wellbeing so why not cleanse the mind at the same time by having a break from the news and shifting your focus elsewhere.
Santosha / Contentment
Try and find contentment in the little things. It could be your first hot drink of the day, a new blossoming flower in your garden, the sounds of nature waking up with the sun or tapping into contentment with your new daily work/ wellness routine. Personally, I find fulfilment in practicing gratitude and having appreciation for the little things as this helps me realise the simple pleasures in life that I can easily take for granted.
Tapas / Discipline or austerity
When and where possible try and have a daily routine or ritual that is sustainable, achievable and fulfilling each day to save your sanity. Before lockdown your discipline may have been going to the yoga studio or gym, now you’re going to have to find this closer to home. Perhaps you can create your own workout or practice in your living room or garden, keeping in mind it doesn’t have to be physical, you could spend this time meditating, taking a cooking class, talking to loved ones or doing work around your home. Whatever you choose try and make it a regular daily or weekly occurrence, something you look forward to as an essential part of your everyday life.
Svadhyaya/ Study of the self and of the texts
This doesn’t have to be heavy academic texts or yoga philosophy translations, this could be some sublime Rumi or Hafiz poetry, it could be fairy tales, love stories, choose your own adventure stories or anything that elevates your vibration and expands your knowledge in a positive way. I personally have two books on the go right now making it easy to switch between reading about different aspects of the Goddesses and a journey through the Celtic countryside in search of meaning and connection to nature. Both books feed and satisfy my mind and curiosity of sacred texts in different ways.
Isvara Pranidhana / Surrendering or contemplation of a higher power
We have no choice but to surrender to our current situation. There is definitely unseen forces at work here, ones that we don’t have any control over. No matter how hard we pray, dance, meditate or wish it to change, we just need to let everything take its full course and trust that we will all emerge healthier and more vital than before. Along with a daily gratitude practice where I mentally list all the things I’m grateful for, I remind myself that nothing is permanent in this life and continue to surrender any feelings of doubt, anxiety or stress to God/ Goddess or to a higher power which gives me a greater sense of ease.
This was my personal translation of Patanjali’s Niyamas in relation to self-care in today’s world. If you missed out on part one of this blog post you can read it here. I hope that you found it inspiring and informative just as I did writing it. I would love to hear what your thoughts are, so feel free to share with your community and leave a comment below!