There are many aspects of Yoga that aren’t always talked about in a typical Yoga class. And yet, in your Yoga class, you will be practising them even if you don’t realise it.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundations to Yoga. The moral and ethical backbone of a strong Yoga practice, the Yamas and Niyamas guide the practitioner to becoming kinder, more compassionate, more disciplined, self reflective, and more.

There are 5 Yamas, and 5 Niyamas. The Yamas are sometimes referred to as the ‘restraints’, and they are the things we should aim not to do in life if we want to overcome our animal instincts and become more human. The Niyamas are called the ‘observances’, and guide us to grow and evolve, to become more connected to our spiritual side, to understand ourselves better.


The Yamas are

  • Ahimsa – non harming
  • Satya – truthfulness
  • Asteya – non stealing
  • Brahmacharya – control of desires
  • Aparigraha – covetousness

These guide how we interact with other people, the planet we live on, and ourselves. They are about the words you speak, the way you act, and the way you think. If you are friendly to a person’s face, while thinking bad thoughts about them and then gossiping about them to a friend, you are harming both yourself, them and the friend who is the recipient of the gossip with your untruthfulness.

In a Yoga class, your teacher will tell you that you must be mindful of your body, and not allow your practice to cause you harm, to stop if it hurts, to pay attention to your breath, and to ensure you relax to release tension created. This is Ahimsa.

You are asked not to push yourself in your practice beyond what your body is capable of. You will attain the posture, but it will take time. Accepting that you can’t do it yet, and maintaining your practice where you are, is Ahimsa, Satya (accepting the truth), Brahmacharya (ignoring the ego’s demands to push through’) and Aparigraha (you aren’t trying to have what others have).


This acceptance also creates Santosha, or contentment. This is one of the Niyamas, which are

  • Saucha – cleanliness
  • Santosha – contentment
  • Tapas – self discipline
  • Swadhyaya – self study
  • Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender

These shape our growth and evolution as spiritual, physical, emotional, mental human beings. Saucha guides us to take care over what we feed our body and mind, and how we keep the environment we are in.

Santosha teaches us to accept the present moment, and not constantly wish things were different. Tapas reminds us that the creation of powerful routines and disciplines are key to success in anything in life, especially Yoga.

Through self study we can come to understand ourselves better, can see patterns in behaviour, and learn where we are making the same mistakes over and over. Self awareness is the key to growth, and this can only come through self study.

Ishvara Pranidhana represents surrender. It is the understanding that we cannot control the outcomes of our actions. We can only do the best we can, then allow the results to unfold as they will.

In a Yoga class, you are practising Saucha by taking in deep lungfuls of air, drinking water to cleanse your body, chanting and relaxing. Being in the present moment and accepting where you are in your practice is Santosha. Turning up every week, and maybe practising in between, not giving up when a posture gets hard, is Tapas. Through your time on the mat you will be able to learn more about your body, your attitude, and you will be able to hear that small wise voice within. And accepting that your Yoga practice will give you what you need, when it is ready, is the ultimate in surrender.

The Yamas and Niyamas are a large topic, I have only skimmed over them here. If you would like to know more, I cover them in more detail in my book, Bent Back into Shape.

December Tapas on Rhondda Yoga

Tapas is probably my biggest challenge. I have recently discovered that I have ADHD, which explains so much! I am very prone to making big ambitious plans, then dropping them when another ‘shiny object’ appears in my line of vision. If we all come into this life with a big lesson to learn, then I know that mastering self discipline is mine.

Esther Nagle and Mike GardnerThis month, some business friends and I are taking part in a 30 Day Blogging Challenge in memory of a dear friend who passed away last month. He loved this challenge, and many of us knew him through it. Mike was a time management expert and created thousands of blog posts helping people to manage their time better on his website and in his book. I had hoped to attend some of his training in 2019, but sadly, will not be able to. I was fortunate to meet Mike in the summer, and I did benefit from some wonderful advice that I intend to use to help me master this challenge. He was a real gentleman, kind, funny, knowledgeable and very generous with his time and knowledge, and he will be sadly missed by many. I am pleased to be taking part in this December challenge in his honour, and will honour his memory by sticking to the task of writing daily!

The blogging challenge is run by my business coaches and mentor Sarah and Kevin Arrow, and is 30 days of consistent blogging. And yes, we are doing it in the most challenging month to commit to daily blogging.

I will need to write (or at least publish) a blog post on Christmas Day, Boxing Day when I have a drive to Liverpool ahead of me, my birthday (27th) when I have a day of Beatles tourism to enjoy (guess what that post will be about?), and the 28th when I have to drive back from Liverpool. I need to write a blog post when I am busy all day, and on the days when I don’t feel like I have anything to say. These will be challenging but I will do them. If there is a question I can answer for you, I’d love to know!

If you run a business and would like to join us in blogging for your business this December, you can sign up here for free using the coupon code MG2018BBC. I’d love to see you in the group, do let me know if you do!

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