10 Lessons from the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali

In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the Yamas and Niyamas are ethical and moral guidelines that form the foundation of the yogic path. They provide principles for living a conscious and purposeful life. The Yamas are the ethical restraints, while the Niyamas are the observances or positive duties. There are five Yamas and five Niyamas. They are the first 2 angas (limbs) of the yoga system.

Yamas (Ethical Restraints)

Ahimsa (Non-Violence) Refraining from causing harm to others or oneself, both in actions and thoughts.
Satya (Truthfulness) Practicing honesty and truthfulness in words, actions, and thoughts.
Asteya (Non-Stealing) Avoiding stealing or coveting others' possessions, ideas, or time.
Brahmacharya (Moderation) Practicing moderation and channeling one's energy in a balanced way. Traditionally associated with celibacy but can also refer to responsible and balanced use of energy in all aspects of life.
Aparigraha (Non-Greed) Letting go of possessiveness and cultivating a non-grasping attitude towards material possessions.

Niyamas (Observances)

Saucha (Purity) Cultivating physical and mental purity through cleanliness, both externally and internally.
Santosha (Contentment) Finding contentment and acceptance in the present moment, regardless of external circumstances.
Tapas (Austerity) Engaging in self-discipline, cultivating inner strength, and maintaining a focused and determined effort on the yogic path.
Svadhyaya (Self-Study) Practicing self-reflection, self-inquiry, and studying sacred texts to deepen one's understanding of oneself and the universe.
Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender to God) Surrendering to a higher power, acknowledging the divine force or universal consciousness, and aligning one's will with the divine will.
These Yamas and Niyamas serve as guidelines for ethical and spiritual living, creating a framework for personal and social conduct on the yogic path. Practitioners aim to integrate these principles into their daily lives, fostering a sense of inner harmony and contributing to the well-being of the broader community.
Purport … Santosha, the practice of finding contentment and acceptance in the present moment, regardless of external circumstances …
Santosha, often translated as contentment, is a profound aspect of the yogic path outlined by Patanjali. It goes beyond mere satisfaction with external conditions; rather, it is a state of inner fulfillment and peace that transcends the fluctuations of life. Santosha involves cultivating a deep sense of gratitude for what is, embracing the present moment with equanimity.
This principle recognizes the impermanence of external circumstances. Life is inherently dynamic, with ups and downs, successes and challenges. Santosha invites practitioners to release the tendency to constantly seek fulfillment through external achievements or acquisitions and instead turn inward to discover an unshakeable contentment that arises from within.
Practicing Santosha doesn't imply resignation or passivity. It encourages an active engagement with life while maintaining a mental stance that is not dependent on the outcome of external events. It involves acknowledging the reality of the present moment, finding joy in simple pleasures, and appreciating the journey without being fixated on an idealized destination.
Cultivating Inner Stability … Santosha is an antidote to the restlessness that arises from constantly seeking happiness in external achievements. By finding contentment within, individuals develop inner stability, allowing them to navigate life's challenges with greater resilience.
Gratitude and Acceptance . . . The practice of Santosha involves expressing gratitude for the present moment, recognizing that each experience, whether perceived as positive or negative, contributes to personal growth. Acceptance of what is, without resistance or judgment, is at the heart of Santosha.
Freedom from Comparison . . . Contentment arises when individuals free themselves from the trap of constant comparison with others or with an idealized version of themselves. It encourages an appreciation for one's unique journey and circumstances.
Mindful Living . . . Santosha is closely connected to mindfulness. By being fully present in the current moment, individuals can savor life's experiences more deeply, fostering a sense of contentment that transcends external conditions.
Inner Wealth . . . In a world often focused on external wealth and achievements, Santosha introduces the concept of inner wealth—the richness of a content and peaceful mind. It emphasizes that true fulfillment is an inside job, not contingent on external circumstances.
In summary, Santosha invites practitioners to embrace life with open arms, finding contentment in the yogic journey itself. It's a transformative practice that contributes to a more balanced and harmonious way of living, fostering joy and gratitude irrespective of life's external fluctuations.
Written by Rukmangada Das