Yama, Niyama and Hatha Yoga

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

It goes without saying that when one is raising a structure, one has to take into account all the possible sciences related to the building of the structure, such as the material.

When we start practising yoga and meditation, we try our best to prevent the dissipation of energy. Of course, it is not possible for everyone, but as far as possible the practice of yama and niyama has to be followed within the range of one's own possibility.

I have my own way of thinking about it. Somehow or other I have not been impressed by yama and niyama. I think we have to do something in our lives so that yama and niyama come to us. We don't develop them in us, but they develop in us.

The practice of hatha yoga, the six systems of purification of the body, and the practices of yama and niyama must be understood as one subject, as one topic in life. Many people attempt to practise yama and niyama and they force themselves into a very rigorous situation.

It is not bad to be truthful and non-violent, but sometimes we are not able to handle the psycho-emotional situation arising in our life through the practice of these dharmas. Therefore, in order to be able to handle the situation arising in our lives by the practice of this dharma, we have to purify the whole group of nadis.

The spade work

That is why in hatha yoga we have the system of purification of ida and pingala. Ida and pingala, the carriers of mental and pranic energy. When we are able to create harmony between the mental and pranic force in our system then these great dharmas, these great observances in the raja yoga of Patanjali become very natural.

What I am trying to say is that yama and niyama should become a natural and spontaneous expression of our being. The spade work which we have to do in order to create the spontaneity of this dharma is the practices of hatha yoga.

72,000 nadis which carry the computerized impulses through-out the body, and the six hatha yoga body purification techniques, create a psycho-biological harmony, and this harmony ultimately creates spontaneity of the positive dharma in us.

I am peaceful within and without, not because I am forcing myself to be, but on account of the great transformation that has taken place in the structure of my psycho-biological system. It has become my nature to be non-violent and full of love and understanding. I don't have to practise it; it is my nature. This is how a positive dharma has to be developed in the form of yama and niyama.

18 September 1979, Bharata Vidya Bhavan, London, UK