Yamas and Niyamas


At Butterfly Yoga, we are weaving a little more philosophy into the classes over the next few months to give you some background into why we practice yoga and what we are ultimately aiming to achieve. You are likely familiar with Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing), and meditation; however, these are just three components of the so-called eight-limbed path of yoga. Over the coming weeks, we will delve deeper into two other components, known as Yamas and Niyamas. These are easily overlooked in asana classes, yet they hold the key to flowing through life with more ease and grace.

There are five yamas which provide guidelines for interacting mindfully with others and our environment. They remind us, for example, to be considerate of all living things, especially those worse off than ourselves. They tell us to speak truthfully, always with kindness. They encourage us to apply moderation to our lifestyle, never to take what is not rightfully ours, and to be grateful for what we have, however large or small.

The five niyamas refer to attitudes towards ourselves, like personal rules of behavior for creating a more balanced life. We should, for example, maintain good habits, such as a healthy amount of sleep, exercise, nutrition, and work-life balance. We should keep our bodies and our homes clean and tidy. We should continue to learn, striving to be the best version of ourselves. We should recognize that there are some things we cannot change, and allow ourselves to let go of wanting to control everything – knowing when it’s okay to just sit back, relax, and let life unfold.

It is left up to each individual to interpret these guidelines in whichever way is appropriate. By integrating the principles of yamas and niyamas, we can live in harmony with everyone around us, promote peace within ourselves, and develop a little more faith in the love and goodness in the world.



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