Welcome to Part 2 of our 3 part series, “Yoga Seeing the Whole Picture.” Part 2 details the Niyama’s, personal ethics. You may recall that Yoga is made up of “8 limbs or branches”, in Part 1 we discussed the Yama’s, the first limb, and here we will detail the Niyama’s, the second limb. Remember to have fun with your little one while incorporating yoga into your families lifestyle, taking small steps that will lead to big changes. Explore, laugh and enjoy your time together!
NIYAMA- Personal Ethics
Patanjali’s second limb of yoga Niyama, details one’s self discipline and personal actions and observances within society. There are 5 Niyama’s as follows:
1. Saucha (Cleanliness) Little Lotus yogis are encouraged to take part in maintaining clean body health. This may include teeth brushing and proper bathroom hygiene. They are also encouraged to support a clean environment within their personal space (picking up toys, cleanliness at meal times) and that of their external environment. Our external environment can include our water system, parks and outdoor spaces, noise pollution, etc.
Encourage your child to develop healthy hygiene skills and make it a fun family affair to do something that will help in cleaning the environment. Have an outdoor picnic at the park, followed by picking up any garbage that may have been left in the park over the season. Saucha applies to our inner and outer environment, including the body and mind. Mantras are also able to clear the mind of clutter and overwhelming thoughts, and an example your little yogi may be familiar with is Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo.
2. Santosha (Contentment) Little Lotus yogi’s are encouraged to be content and thankful for the people and things within their life. Children tend to be more welcoming in being present within the moment and content with their surroundings than adults. There should be no internal struggle to maintain a certain standard or partake in an activity just because another friend or family member is. Encourage your child to become content with the toys and activities within their life. By accumulating more material objects one will not become more content in the big picture of life. Practice with your family being content in the moment and enjoy the present. Join your little yogi for some posture practice and take time to just be! Don’t worry about the to-do list, that dinner needs to be started, bills to be paid. Children can sometimes teach the adults how to be content and present.
3. Tapas (burning fire, enthusiasm) Tapas, the burning enthusiasm and discipline, brings forth the ability to reach our goals and keep up internal motivation. Little Lotus Yogi’s are encouraged to be enthusiastic about the tasks and activities that they enjoy throughout their days. They are also encouraged to maintain focus throughout their activities, creating self-discipline towards listening, learning, sharing & caring. Practice your own tapas to make sure you are a positive role model for your little Yogi. Create enthusiasm and a burning desire towards activities in your life.
4. Svadhyaya (Self Study) Svadhyaya incorporates the study of the true self, without the ego present, studying traditional yoga texts, history, philosophies, etc. Through self study one is able to gain further knowledge into their true selves, absent of judgments and attachments. Little Lotus Yogi’s are encouraged to be inquisitive towards the yogic tradition and other areas that may interest them. Encourage your child to dive deeper into areas of interest and increase their knowledge of the topic. This will assist in leading towards greater knowledge of our interactions with others and towards one’s true self.
5. Isvara Pranidhana (Surrender to God) Isvara Pranidhana is translated as giving up or surrendering to God. Patanjali states in his yoga sutra’s that devotion to the Lord is one of the paths to enlightenment. Since yoga is not a religion, this may include any religion you practice, or the divine with each of us. Isvara Pranidhana is also acting the best way you can, remaining true to yourself and giving up attachments to the outcome of our actions. Isvara Pranidhana may also occur at those moments where time seems to stop because you are so present without attachments and judgments. Little Lotus Yogi’s are encouraged to be the best they can be and are given a safe environment to allow their true self to shine. Encourage your child to be the best they can be and do what feels right for them. Take time each day to live in the moment with your child!