The practice of the first two petals, Yama and Niyama remove the impurities from the body and mind. These two principles come in Bahiranga Sadhana and help to cultivate new samskaras(accumulation of past impressions and culturing of oneself in the present life) which helps to clean one’s own body, senses, mind and intellect, ego and consciousness.
Yama is the social and ethical discipline. With the practice of Yama, one can develop and cultivate a healthy nature and can learn the way to live life. There are five Yama-s. These are Ahimsa (Non violence), Satya(Truth), Asteya(Non-stealing), Brahmacharya(Self-control), Aparigraha(non-covetousness). Following these five commandments bring peace and harmony in life and we can save ourselves from pain and ignorance.
Niyama is an individual discipline. It tells how one should live and what one should adhere to. There are five Niyama-s. They are Shaucha(Purity), Santosha(Contentment), Tapas(Penance), Svadhyaya(self-study), Ishvara pranidhana(dedication to the God).
BKS Iyengar explained in very detailed manner on each of the limbs involved in Yoga Tree, saying Yama: representing the root of the tree saying, principles of Yama should penetrate deep into one’s heart as the roots of the tree to give firmness to the tree and Niyama representing the trunk of a tree and acting as pillar for the practice of yoga by holding the entire tree giving shade, oxygen, fruits to the living beings.
Therefore, practicing Ashtanga yoga brings purity, discriminative knowledge and wisdom.
- Purity: Restrain yourself from watching unwanted things and spending long hours watching unnecessary things. Lying, cheating or jealousy, overeating and junk food etc. pollutes the mind.
- Discriminative Knowledge: Judge between good and bad. Dealing with dualities of life. What is right and what is wrong.
- Wisdom: Doing one’s own duty sincerely with awareness. Doing what he/she has to do and refrain from what he/she must not do.