Yoga gives us some precise information about how to live our lives. In this article, we will look at these guidelines.

Yama and Niyama - Code of conduct

The vow of the Yogi

Yama means containment and is about five basic rules for your personal life. These rules have been written down by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutras.

Ahimsa: Ahimsa can be translated with non-violence. The serious practitioner of Yoga will never kill an animal or human being. This is also one of the reasons why a Yogi will only eat vegetarian food. The Sadhaka, the aspirant, is admonished to treat every living being with love and respect. This rule is not over-exaggerated and you can still kill a mosquito before it stings you and possibly transmits some kind of disease.

Satya: Truthfulness. Be true to others and to yourself. Admit your shortcomings without hesitation and shame. Stay away from lies and any kind of deceptions. 

Asetya: As a practitioner of Yoga you are not allowed to steal and you have to prioritize sincerity and honesty. Jealousy, greed, envy and the like have to be eradicated out of your character.

Brahmacaria: Celibacy. Retention of sexual energy is of utmost importance if one´s goal is to awaken Kundalini-Shakti. If adopted by a guru, the practitioner often is not allowed to have any sexual intercourse. Especially for men, the loss of sexual energy through ejaculation is considered to be fatal and has to be precluded under any circumstance. If the Yogi has mastered the sexual energies and is in total control of his semen, he is of course allowed to have sex, because he can make love without losing any energy.

Aparigraha: This rule is according to the requirement to be an honest person. Just like the commandment in the christian Bible "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, nor thy neighbour's wife," tells us, in Yoga the sadhaka, the student, should eliminate all greed in his personality and only accept what life gives him. Some Indian philosophies have interpreted this vow in a very extreme form as total lack of possession. Yogis, on the other hand, see no obstacle to spiritual realization in possession and wealth unless one is attached to it and strives for it.

Niyama is Sanskrit and means to tame. this is to indicate that these life rules are intended to encourage people to exercise self-control. the five are rules:

Shauca - Cleanliness

The aspirant should take a bath daily and take care of his body. Bathe before practicing. Imagine preparing the temple before the service. In addition, there is the practice of the Shat Karmas, the yogic cleansing exercises for inner cleansing, which also has a strong effect on the psychic level! Furthermore, one has to pay attention to healthy, pure food, eliminate negative thoughts and bad habits.

Samtosha - Frugality

A yoga practitioner should be satisfied with what life has given him. He, she, should be calm, go through life without attachment to possessions or a good reputation. One should also not become too dependent on one's fellow human beings.

Tapas - asceticism

Tapas is the willingness and the ability to renounce things and to make certain efforts to achieve one's spiritual goal. Through the strong devotion to his task, the aspirant begins to glow inwardly, hence the word tapas, which means fire or embers. Asceticism has a high value in yoga and is highly appreciated, but only as long as it supports the practitioner in his intention and does not unnecessarily weaken the body or even harm it.

Svadhyaya - Study

Studying the sacred scriptures of yoga is to be put at the heart of every yoga practitioner to gain basic knowledge about the philosophy of yoga. besides physical training, the mind should also be trained. this knowledge supports the practice tremendously and the student dives deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the ancient rishis. it is not the goal to become a schoolbook scholar, but impulses from outside can help to decipher the mysteries of the body at the right time. furthermore, the study of the ancient scriptures motivates one to deal more intensively with the practice in order to finally achieve the desired goal, the awakening of the Kundalini.

Ishvara-Pranidhana - devotion to God
Devotion and love of God are the most important qualities an aspirant must bring with him. The whole yoga practice is based on these two pillars. Devotion and total trust in one's master and in God are irreplaceable prerequisites for progressing on the path of yoga. Trust Faith gives the practitioner the necessary perseverance to master difficult tasks.

The Hathayoga-Pradipika leads ten Yamas and ten Niyamas:

Yama:
do not kill
be truthful
be honest
be patient
be strong
be compassionate
be sincere
eat moderately
be pure

Niyama:
be abstinent
be frugal
be a believer
be merciful
devotion to god
study the holy scriptures
obedient to the guru
be modest
proof perseverance
be willing to make sacrifices