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The Niyamas of Yoga

by Taucha Post about a month ago in yoga / wellness / spirituality / self care / psychology / mental health / meditation / lifestyle / humanity / health / fitness / body / advice
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Observances for all

Did you know that the poses and movements that you do in a yoga class are actually just a tiny piece of the big yoga picture? The schematic above is The 8 Limbs of Yoga. These are all of the practices that make the yogic path. Limb three is asana — the poses or postures you do in a yoga class — and it's only one of the eight limbs.

Limb two, the niyamas, are observances to keep with yourself. There are five all together.

They are:

Saucha - Purity

Santosha - Contentment

Tapas - Self-discipline

Svadhyaya - Self-study

Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender

These observances are as important to your health as the yoga poses that strengthen your body so I wanted to go into detail about what each one means and how you can practice them on a daily basis.

Saucha - Purity

Saucha teaches that our bodies are the house and vehicle of our mind and soul, and because it houses such precious residents, we have to keep the body clean.

Now I don't know about you, but because of my ADHD, I'm not the best housekeeper...but I'm willing to learn.

According to Iyengar, Saucha includes practices of external and internal purification. Author and yogi Deborah Adele explains further that the practice of Saucha is the release of tangible and intangible toxins.

So practices of Saucha can include:

1) Calming, nurturing baths or showers: Have soaps, shampoos, scrubs, etc that you genuinely love

2) Physical yoga practices: Gentle, medium or sweaty, just move your body.

3) Eating healthy whole foods: Stay hydrated and eat energizing foods with ingredients you can pronounce

4) Breathing practices to bathe the internal body in energy: Equal breathing, square breathing, alternate nostril breathing, deep belly breathing etc

5) Practices of confession and self-forgiveness: This releases the toxic feelings of resentment and shame. Write our what happened and why you forgive yourself. Then set it on fire!

If you have ADHD, it's very easy for us to lose track of regular rituals. It's also very easy for any of us to hold old mistakes over our heads. So, I encourage you, with all my heart, to find a few ways to practice Saucha.

Santosha - Contentment

According to Deborah Adele, author of The Yamas and Niyamas, Santosha recognizes that we remove our own power if we place our happiness on people, events and circumstances outside of ourselves.

When I was first diagnosed with ADHD, my mind was convinced that life would be easier if / I would be happy when:

-I learned to manage my time

-Society demonstrated more ADHD awareness

-I could follow-through with ALL my tasks

-I could remember to do laundry before I ran out of clothes

-I got a different job

-I could go to bed at the same time every night

-People were more understanding

-I was always on time

Etc etc etc....

Do any of these thoughts resonate?

Basically I was convinced that, in order to be happy, I had to be a different person and society had to be a different place. I was putting my happiness on things outside of myself on things I couldn't control. That's not helpful...

Santosha teaches us that looking for happiness externally distracts us from the contentment we can be experiencing right now.

My friends, the grass isn't always greener. When I turn my attention back to my present circumstances as they are, I realize there is PLENTY to be happy and content with right now.

In what ways are you placing your happiness outside of yourself? How can you bring it back?

Tapas - Self-discipline.

Are you triggered, those of us with ADHD? Because I am.

I think a lot of us equate discipline with consistency, yes? And this is a problem, because as psychiatrist Edward Hallowell explains, ADHDers are "consistently inconsistent".

We have spent so much time and so much negative self-talk trying to make ourselves do anything consistently, but our brains just aren't built for it. Over the years, we may have started to believe or have been told that we lack discipline entirely.

Dear ADHDer, I just want to tell you that's not true.

Tapas is the practice of self-discipline but it also means transformation. It literally translates to 'heat', like forging something new from the flames of a fire.

This year, with the help of my ADHD coach, Kristen Carder, I have started to think of discipline as being persistent INSTEAD OF consistent. I believe that you can transform yourself by deciding ahead of time that you will continue to show up even if it's inconsistently.

For example, on the 1st of this month I started a year-long daily meditation practice. I decided that I would show up for myself to meditate for 30 minutes a day for 365 days. But guess what? I have already missed two days: One day I was taking a course the whole day and I just could not fit meditation time in, and on Friday I just freaking forgot. It just blipped out of my mind!

In the past, I would have used this as evidence that I will never be capable of transformation because I can never show up consistently for myself. I would have had a thought like, "Great. Another way I can't take care of myself. Why do I even bother?" and that thought would have created feelings of shame. Shame would have led me to avoid starting my meditation practice again, and the result would have been a complete lack of transformation.

The difference now is that I assumed ahead of time that I would be inconsistent, and I decided ahead of time that I wasn't going to make it mean anything other than my ADHD brain is functioning EXACTLY how it's built to, and I decided ahead of time that no matter how many days I missed, I would PERSIST with my meditation practice anyway.

Persistence is how transformation happens. Persistence, to me, is Tapas.

So, my dear ADHDers, how can you persist?

Svadhyaya- Self-Study

Now my friend, very quickly and without thinking, write down the first five words that come to mind that describe the world as you understand it. Don't over think it.

Take a look at the words you wrote down.

Now what if I told you that the that words you wrote down are not actually representative of the world but instead representative of your BELIEFS about yourself.

It kinda stings doesn't it?

The first time I did this exercise from Deborah Adele's book, The Yamas and Niyamas three years ago, I wrote down:







Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study and understanding yourself as a small piece of a bigger greater whole. You do this one layer at a time by identifying all the beliefs, stories, and projections you carry with you that prevent you from seeing yourself as the divine creation you are, as the yogis would say.

The thing is, ADHDers are not the best at self-awareness and self-evaluation. We tend to believe that all of the thoughts and beliefs that skip through our minds are fact OR we aren't even aware that they are there at all.

That's why the above exercise is so enlightening.

There are as many realities as there are people because we all use different beliefs and filters to look at the world. That's why how you see the world is more representative of your sneaky beliefs about yourself than the world itself.

So, look at those five words again. Some of them may sting to look at now, but don't worry, the sooner we can see the ways we are shaping our reality the sooner we can free ourselves from the pain of that reality and be our truer selves.

Take some time and ask yourself, "How are these five words true about me?". Be honest.

What did you learn about yourself?

Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender

Ishvara Pranidhana is surrendering to a higher power. Whatever that higher power may be to you — God, consciousness, the divine, the one, providence — Ishvara Pranidhana means you put your trust in that power and believe that all outcomes are for a greater purpose.

My husband and I are house hunting right now in an INSANE housing market, and let me tell you, practicing Ishvara Pranidhana is fucking hard.

When you find a place you like, it feels like your potential life flashes before your eyes.

We have seen many houses, but Daniel and I have a viewing booked for Wednesday for a house I am in love with. I am already living my whole life in there. I know where I will read all my books for book club. I'm know which room will be our first baby's. I know where guests will stay. I know where my yoga studio will be (and it's BEAUTIFUL!).

BUT! I also know that houses are being sold for $200,000 over asking price and we don't have that kind of money.

So even though we love the house and it's perfect for our plans, there's a good chance it's just not going to happen.

And that's okay. (I guess...)

Whatever the outcome of our hunt is, is exactly what the outcome is supposed to be. Daniel and I can put together the best offer and sweetest offer letter we can, but then it's no longer up to us. The only thing that really makes that painful is thinking and believing that it IS up to us, and trying to force something that isn't meant to happen.

Author Deborah Adele says, "As the ego surrenders, the heart expands."

Where can you use a little more heart expansion?

PS. My membership takes care of ADHDers' bodies, minds, hearts, and soulsPS.! Seriously. SERIOUSLY!

It includes:

-Yoga classes for all level the body clean.

-Mindfulness practices and pose tutorials in a HUGE recorded library

-Body doubles so you can work along side other ADHDers to help you do the hard/boring things

-Powerful live guided journaling practices

-Special events to help you set intentions and follow-through

-ADHD-friendly supports to prevent any shame surrounding consistency

-And membership to a non-judgmental, supportive, loving, and hilarious ADHD Slack community (Seriously, I love them SO MUCH!!!)

Follow me at @adhd.yoga and check out my online studio at adhdyoga.ca.

yogawellnessspiritualityself carepsychologymental healthmeditationlifestylehumanityhealthfitnessbodyadvice

About the author

Taucha Post

ADHDer here! I'm a certified yoga teacher and ADHD coach-in-training. I empower ADHDers to take care of themselves through movement, breath, and the occasional f-bomb. Follow me at @adhd.yoga and check out my online studio at adhdyoga.ca.

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