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    The Yamas and Niyamas: The Yamas

    The Yamas are five forms of discipline that help keep the mind and body pure. They are the "don't" in yoga, and though people do not like to hear the word "no", these yamas will help keep you and your children on the right path to a positive and happy life. 

    Ahimsa (Do not harm):  When we talk about harming people and animals, we usually are talking about our words or actions.  But, how about our thoughts?  They can be harmful, too.  The next time you have a negative thought in your mind about someone or something, try ti switch it to a nice thought such as: "I wish my enemy to find love and happiness."  Sometimes, just the thought of it makes you smile.  

    Satya (tell no lies): According to yoga philosophy, truth does not harm anyone.  It results i strength in character and personal integrity. Truth is not just about what you say, but how you live your life. Do you practice what you preach?  Do you follow through on your words?  And how about those thoughts of yours? Are they realistic or are you setting yourself up for failure?  Be true to yourself and others.  The goal is to have our minds, speech, and actions in harmony.  

    Asteya (do not steal):  This is not just about stealing items, but also about stealing thoughts and ideas from others.  It's very natural for kids to copy each other and often times it's a sign of flattery.  Therefore, it's important to let people know your intentions and to thank them for their contributions.  Again, be thankful for what you have and be content with who you are.  Instead of taking something, make it a practice to give something instead.  Habits can be formed over time, whether good or bad.

    Brahmacharya (Control desires):  This can be any form of desire, whether sexual or non-sexual.  The idea is to have inner strength and contentment so that we have better things to think about or do other than lust and desire.  Having faith in ourselves and our families can help with finding Brahmacharya.  Filling your life with positive people, past-times and meditation will also help curb any sort of lusts and desires.  

    Aparigraha (Don't be greedy):  It almost feels like all of the Yamas are the same, and in a sense they go along with not being greedy, but finding contentment instead.  When we live a simple life and are happy with what we have, greed seems to disappear.  When we give more than we receive, greed goes away.  Remember, you don't own your items and things in life.  They own you.  Instead of interrupting others and wanting things, try to give more and listen more.  

    So, now that you have that down, go take on the day!

    The Yamas and Niyamas: Niyamas

    The yamasa and niyamas are the do's and don'ts of life.  Just as sports, schools, and households have rules, yoga has some rules to live by as well. They aren't necessarily bound restrictions, but more like a guide to help you be the best person that you possibly can be in this world.  They offer structure and awareness, and can be practiced every day.  They compliment a healthy lifestyle very nicely.  There are some great books that parents can read to their children that teach good life lessons.  When I was growing up, we read Aesop's Fables.  Right now, I'm reading a book called Buddha at Bedtime.  Both books use animals to teach about right from wrong.  Kids love animals and the stories can illicit great discussions about life.

    The Niyamas (yoga do's)

    1. Purity (saucha): For the most part, this means staying away from any of the yamas (yoga don'ts).  We want our bodies, lives, and minds to feel clear of negativity or anything harmful as much as possible.  Purity can also reflect on how we live and take care of things, such as cleanliness, neatness, and healthy eating.  For example, staying away from processed foods or meats which have come from animals who have been treated inhumanely.

    2. Contentment (santosha): So when was the last time you were really happy with everything that you have and wanting nothing more?  This is being content...happy with what you have and happy with yourself.  It's tough in today's society, but it can be done.  Just be thankful for what you have.  Be happy with who you are.  It could be worse.  Remember, you are very very lucky.  

    3. Self-Discipline (tapas): Self discipline is another toughie in today's fast-paced world.  It's so easy to get carried away or to lose focus.  So, to start with, try changing your attitude towards things.  Focus on the positive and get things done because you know they will make you a better person.  This should be a fun challenge or way of life rather than a chore.  

    4. Self-Study (svadhyaya): Through self-study, we mean that you should be examining your spiritual self.  Look at your actions and reactions.  Notice your feelings, words, and experiences and see how they reflect who you really are.  Study your beliefs and see if you are following what you preach.  Perhaps  you may want to study sacred texts such as the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita.  Who are you to yourself and others?  

    5 Devotion (ishvar-pranidhana): In a nutshell, this niyama focuses on nourishing your spirituality.  It's important to have a balance between emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.  All work together as a team.  


    Throughout our lives, we often talk about the Golden Rule.  I find that the yamas and niyamas in yoga are pretty much straightforward and feel very similar to the Golden Rule that we are taught in school and in life.  Enjoy.