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The Yamas Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  2,450 ratings  ·  213 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
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
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."
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 S 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.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A therapist friend recommend this to me. A beautiful philosophy.
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.
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
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Adopting a more positive, authentic approach to life is easier said than done. Yoga philosophy offers a set of guidelines to help improve the way you treat yourself and others, and this book grounds those concepts in real-world examples. Deborah Adele draws from movies, tv shows, and her own life to describe the yamas and niyamas from a modern perspective.

After an overview, each chapter focuses on one yama or niyama. (There are 10 in all). The chapters are further divided in bite-size sections,
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
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I so badly wanted to just plow right through this book, but forced myself to take it slow. It was my "just before sleep" indulgence for the past 2 weeks. It explores the first 2 limbs of Patanjali's yoga sutras and offers guidelines for a meaningful and purposeful life.
1. Yama
The first limb, yama, deals with one's ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. Yamas are universal practices that relate best to what we know as the Golden R
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to be afraid without being paralyzed.” 

Deborah’s description of courage gives you a glimpse of how profound this book is. It contains full of wisdom and insights about Yamas and Niyamas which are the first two limbs of the eight-fold path of yoga introduced by Patanjali. This book is an easy read yet, it can get uncomfortable too since it talks about human nature in a very raw and authentic way. I wanted to highlight every line to be my mantra
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
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Yes! First book done for yoga teacher training, and it has given me a LOT to think about. I particularly liked the appendix where she talks a bit about the differences between Eastern and Western culture, which is sooooo important so all of us white American ladies don't go a-culturally appropriating (or at least are more aware if/when we do). Looking forward to much more reflection on this one.
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.
Nicole Taylor
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Love this! Practical, deep, and accessible. Reading it felt like talking to a friend.
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.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jinx Kelly
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had a weird experience with this book in that it was equally infuriating and life-changing. There are so many lovely ideas in this book and so many useful nuggets of wisdom. There are helpful lessons and prompts to focus on so you can practice the Yamas and Niyamas.

However, I didn’t like the dismissal of the challenges we face living in the US in an oppressive capitalist system that’s rigged. There was a very brief mention of horrific things in the world that was then immediately invalidated
Alex Boon
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'd give this book a solid 3.5. Some of the ideas are gold and I will return to them time and again. I felt disappointed by the chapter on ahimsa because it just didn't capture the weight of this yama for me. I feel with this one it needs either just a few words or a whole book. Random anecdotes just didn't seem to fit for me and I came out without much improved understanding. However, the book improved. I adored the chapters on aparigraha, satya, and svadhyaya. I felt brahmacharya needed more e ...more
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