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The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  3,413 ratings  ·  285 reviews
The first two limbs of the eight-fold path of yoga sutras—the basic text for classical yoga—are examined in this spiritual guide to the practice of yoga. Foundational to all yogic thought, they are considered to be the guidelines to the yoga way of living that free individuals to take ownership of their lives, direct them toward the fulfillment they seek, and gain the skil ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by On-Word Bound Books (first published 2009)
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Jan 12, 2012 is currently reading it
Interesting that others are also writing reviews while reading this book. It's a book that reads like a delicious bit of chocolate. It needs to be read in small bites, preferably at night, just before sleep. It's become my "chocolate on the pillow" every night. Tonight I read a bite about the importance of occasionally carrying your own heavy things (metaphorically and literally) and how you become weaker if you let others do your "heavy lifting" all the time. This rang so true on a day when som ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
I am not a reader of what many would call "self help" books. And many out there would probably classify this book as just that. But this book is more than that. It is immensely readable and relatable. The author writes with a conversational tone that makes her words all the more powerful. What it does is explore the five yamas and the five niyamas that make up the foundation of yoga's ethical practice. What exactly does that mean? Before I explain, let me back up a bit. Give you all a little bac ...more
Stacey Jones
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book as an introduction for the yoga certification course I am about to begin, and it demonstrated to me that I was right to embark on this adventure. All during my two years of regular practice, I've wanted to know about the ethics and roots of yoga, and this book addressed the ethical practice in a structured and easy-to-relate to way.

Author Adele divides the book logically by the Yamas (restraints) of nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess and nonpossessivness. The Niy
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book that opens up doors when we open up ourselves. I'm spiritual but not religious and yet this book spoke to me. Things have already changed for the better as I have started to actively live by the Yamas and Niyamas. Life can be difficult at times but it is how we go about it that ultimately defines our life. My favorite quote in the book was "we are not human beings trying to be spiritual; we are spiritual beings trying to be human." ...more
Alex Lee
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Essentially the yamas and niyamas are guides to help us discover our own authenticity. These are ways, techniques, mindset paradigms that quiet ourselves so that we do not let our objective reality sense become identified with one particular feeling, thought, emotion, concept or whatever.

Only after do we find ourselves are we also able to see how we are not, and how that changes how we understand/perceive the world. That loss of objective ground lets us dive into illusions that can then guide us
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
This struck me as a self-help book wrapped in yogic trimmings. Not what I was expecting. I was dismayed when I hit the third yama - the author tells a story of a bride leaving her cheating fiance at the alter as a wonderful example of non-stealing. Not only did the bride not adhere to non-stealing (she stole everyone's time by not canceling the wedding outright when she discovered the infidelity), the bride was violent (by causing an upheaval instead of privately confronting her fiance) and non- ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoga
So far, this is one of the most accessible books I've found to start exploring the first two "limbs" of Patanjali's Sutras. What I do like is it provides guidelines and structure to explore. This isn't a book that I'll zip through. It'll take time to work through and explore each piece. The chapters on Ahimsa come first, and that's where I seem to stay! (Guess I really need to work on that concept! LOL)

If you're curious and want to explore the philosophical basis of Yoga, and start with Patanjal
Autumn (Triquetra Reviews)
Not something that I'm wild about. While I understand where the yamas and niyamas would make a wonderful addition to someone's personal practice, I'm not in love with the author's voice.

There are times of condescension, and as a non-Christian, having the word "God" thrown in there "the way to achieve Surrender is to allow God in" makes me chafe.

The way this material was presented also makes it seem as if people with mental illness are to blame, and follows the "if you think good thoughts, ever
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book has a lot of interesting ideas but I find it supremely frustrating that a book about yoga still manages to push Christian ideology.
Aug 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
These are the do's and do not's of the yoga world; non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, non-possessiveness (them the yamas), and purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender (the niyamas).

In general, these are fairly straightforward and easy to comprehend. There might be some discussion on how important they are, or how to apply them, or where people get tripped up and start lying (no, those pants don't make your ass look big), etc.

But the direction the autho
Farnoosh Brock
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
My teacher recommended this beautiful book to me, and it is the most enlightening book on these yoga tenents AND on life and living, on joy and happiness, on us getting in our own way and how to get out of the way, and it's written in a most easy-to-read and yet eloquent, poetic and memorable way. I was not familiar with Deborah Adele before and yet I felt she was speaking directly to me on some of the poignant points she made about the living true to ourselves. She has a way of weaving in her o ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just so insightful. I bought three copies to give out to friends.
Nicki Escudero
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yoga, spiritual
You don't have to be a yogi to enjoy this book. It explains 10 yoga tenets that are principles you'd do will living by, including truthfulness, non-greed and purity.

The book is very relatable, with author Deborah Adele weaving many personal stories into these yoga guidelines. She explains how to easily integrate the Yamas and Niyamas into your everyday life and provides examples of ways to put them into practice.

I liked Adele's friendly narratives, encouraging words and easy-to-understand expla
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoga
Overall, I liked this book. At moments, it did get intense as I found myself escaping by checking messages mid-sentence. It happened more in the Niyamas than the Yamas. The Yamas (nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess, and nonpoesssivenesss) are easier for me to embrace. The Niyamas (purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender) remind me of the Christian precepts of abstinence, redemptive suffering, and degradation and how they’ve been used to control and punish. ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book takes an in depth look at the first two limbs of the 8 limbed path of yoga, which come from the Yoga Sutras and comprise yoga's ten ethical guidelines. The first limb, the Yamas, or restaraints, are comprised of nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess and nonpossessiveness. The second limb, the Niyamas, or observances, are purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender. This book does a superb job of looking at each ethical tenet in an extremely in depth but a ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Friends and teachers in my yoga teacher training programs recommended this book to me. At first I was quite interested in eight limbs and the philosophy in ancient yoga. This book is a nice supplementary resource after reading . The author has good arguments and offers a variety of explanation of each element in Yamas and Niyama. Also, I really appreciate the practices the author offers at the end of each chapter. For "serious" yoga practitioners, it is definitely worth to try.

But in the end th
Marjorie Elwood
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspiration
A year ago, a part of my life fell to pieces. On a hike up to an Appalachian Mountain Club hut, I met a man and we talked about life and spirituality. He had just started this book. After a day spent chatting, he gave me the book, telling me that he thought he had bought it for a reason, and that reason was that I needed it. He was right.

Deborah Adele explains each restraint (yama) and observance (niyama) in a manner that exhibits clarity, an understanding of the distractions of life, and rings
Erin Subramanian
Would NOT recommend this to those looking to study the yamas and niyamas. VERY self-helpy and honestly felt like a waste of time. A very white perspective, treated PoC in othering ways when they were mentioned at all. Every anecdote was perfectly pat and lacked complexity and meaningful analysis. I wouldn't have bothered to read the whole thing but I needed to for a yoga teacher training. If you are considering this book, maybe ask yourself why you're looking to read about Indian spiritual conce ...more
Janani Iyer
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Liked the book so much that I bought a personal copy, to remind myself everyday of the Principles.

I would highly recommend the book to all. Wish more people followed the principles in this book rather that the 48 laws to power.
There is more power in this book.
One of the best practical translation of Patanjali YOga sutras.
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am taking my first yoga class and we are reading this. I would recommend this to anyone interested in yoga.
May 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Good concepts presented bible-study style. I was expecting a more objective, historical approach instead of a narration of personal experiences and applications derived from such.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolute jewel of a book! One that I shall be happily revisiting as I try to apply some of the practices into my own life! Brilliant😊
Karina Contreras
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Very insightful book, easy to read an practical principles to live a more fulfilling life.
Alison Chorney-Dubien
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-challenge
This book has changed my life....It is by far 5++++ STARS.
Mael Brigde
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a good book. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but my yoga teacher assembled a book study group and this was the book on offer. The yamas and niyamas of yoga philosophy are clearly and lovingly explained, with illuminating commentary and questions to ponder. Our exploration of the ethics led to many insights on all our parts. I docked a point because her perspective is a tad too white-middle-class for me. (Would have docked a bit less but can’t seem to do fractions of a point.) And whe ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was my first required reading book for my 200 hour yoga teacher training and I loved it. Really great book on yoga philosophy and also life in general. Really easy to read but I definitely took my time with this one because after each Yama and Niyama I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on it, and sat with the questions for exploration at the end. This is a book that I think I will come back to often, reading different sections when I feel myself struggling in different aspects of my life ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A therapist friend recommend this to me. A beautiful philosophy.
Kelly Fitzpatrick
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book fucked me up! Doing talk therapy for half my life; thinking I've been putting in the work and then reading this book... I feel like I'm back to the starting line. Practicing Ahimsa alone feels impossible most days. It's made me realize how bad my patterns are and that I need to change and want to change. I highly recommend this book if you want a different perspective on life and how you live your life. ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Definitely what this middle-aged, full-time working NP, mom, and wife needed to read right now in the beginning of 2021, during this pandemic and the political aftermath of the last 4 years.
Aimee Brown
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book everyone can use. I will read again & again & am grateful it came into my life.
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