What Is the Meaning of Niyama?

Niyama is the second limb of the spiritual path as outlined by the ancient sage Patanjali in his yoga sutras. It lists five things you should do to make spiritual progress. They are:

  • Saucha: Cleanliness of the body, mind, and heart.
  • Santosha: Contentment. To attain this one must realize that nothing in the world can make them happy. Everything one needs lies in one’s own Self.
  • Tapasya: Austerity or self-restraint. This does not mean harming or depriving oneself of essential needs (which would violate the first yama, ahimsa).
  • Swadhyaya: Self-study or introspection. This is sometimes translated as “study of the scriptures,” but the literal meaning is “Self-study,” or study of the Higher Self. To achieve this niyama, one should always question one’s motives and reasoning, and stay open to the possibility that one could be wrong.
  • Ishwarapranidhana: Worship of the Supreme Self. (1)

Further Studies That Includes the Niyamas

Learn The Path of Kriya Yoga
Demystifying Patanjali: The Yoga Sutras Video Series
Demystifying Patanjali: The Yoga Sutras book

  1. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 25, “The Eightfold Path of Patanjali.”