• Satya (Truthfulness): this quality implies honesty and sincerity in thoughts, words, and deeds. This is possible only when one has conquered greed and ambition since these are the two major culprits which take you away from the truth.
• Asteya (Non-theft): in Sanskrit, “steya” denotes the enjoyment or keeping with oneself the things that do not rightfully belong to them. This is basically the act of stealing or theft. A person is inclined to steal only when he has no love and has some selfish motive. A yogi or a student of yoga has very few basic needs. He has learned the art of loving himself as well as others. Hence he does not feel the need to exploit or steal from others.
• Brahmacharya (Celibacy): sex has been defined as one of the vital necessities of human existence. It ranks next only to food. Since ancient times, very few people have been able to master their sexual urges. If not satisfied, these urges lead a person to deprivation and develop psychotic tendencies. Yoga lays great stress on celibacy. It considers the act of sex itself as sexual. Thinking, talking, and looking at the opposite sex as a part of sex has to be avoided. Patanjali has declared that brahmacharya increases mental strength, also called veerya, in an individual.
• Aparigraha (Non-gathering): this yama means not going on collecting wealth and objects just for enjoyment. Yoga teaches one to collect wealth and objects just to meet his primary needs. This is important because greed causes distraction and thus leads to increased strain on his mind and body.
The above-mentioned points deal with vairagya or the negative aspects of one’s behavior. Now we take a look at some of the niyamas or the positive aspects of the behavior as described by yoga:
• Shoucha (Cleanliness): This includes the cleanliness of the mind and the body. Yoga has described a clean mind as one free of any prejudices, false beliefs, ignorance and ego. Generally speaking, all the yamas come under this niyama since they deal with eliminating some of the other impurities.
• Santosha (Contentment): a yogi is taught to be happy and satisfied with his lot. He does not need to achieve any ambition.
• Tapas (Religious austerities): This niyama describes the rituals like fasting: needed to fortify the mind. Yoga believes that this increases the body’s resistance power and makes your body and mind stronger, and thus you can face adverse conditions effectively.
• Swadhyaya (Reading of religious literature): This practice is very useful for overcoming ignorance and calmly facing the adversities of life. It helps to fill your mind with peace.
• Ishwarpranidhana (Devotion): this teaches you to rely on the divine will and ascribe your action’s effects to the divine providence. This is a useful habit to cultivate as you can accept everything as God’s will and achieve peace of mind. This eliminates the fear and worry.