How Does the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali Describe the 5 Niyamas?

The 8 limbs of yoga, as dictated in the Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali, act as guidelines on various actions and behaviors that allow us to balance our frequencies and grow on a spiritual level.

Yamas and Niyamas are the first two of the 8 limbs of yoga. In this blog, we will understand the five Niyamas.

For an in-depth discussion on Yamas, read our previous post.

The five Niyamas (Observance) are Purity, Contentment, Self-Discipline, Self-Study, and Surrender. Each one cultivates alignment and raises our frequency in its way.

These Niyamas allows an individual to feel content in their interaction with everything around them - themselves, society, and nature. They are guidelines, tenets, ethical disciplines, precepts or restraints, or observances.

Each of these five elements is a gem that allows us to lead a more fulfilled life in our interaction with ourselves, society, and nature.

1. Purity – Saucha

Purity – Saucha - Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

Saucha invites us to cleanse our bodies, thoughts, and words. We can accomplish this through food, meditation, breathwork, exercise, and leading an ethical life that resonates with our hearts.

Through this cleansing, we can rid ourselves of negative energy and emotions that hinder our spiritual development. It also invites us to accept each moment in its purest form.

We focus on being non-emotional or stoic with life as it happens around us rather than to us, allowing us to feel lighter and more in flow.

2. Contentment – Sanstosha

Rather than seeking external validation or happiness, which often leads to disappointment, Santosha invites us to live with gratitude for all we have and to turn it into our heart center.

It is the act of falling in love with our own lives and is a key step in becoming conscious where we no longer seek outside validation but become a witness of life and start living in contentment.

It allows us to remain centered rather than searching for external validation, pleasure, or reinforcement, positive or negative.

3. Self-Discipline – Tapas


We practice Tapas (heat) or Self-Discipline when we cook ourselves in the fires of discipline to transform into a better version of ourselves.

We can burn off non-supportive behaviors when leaning into our fears, instead of turning to momentary pleasures. Through discipline, we can pass through the obstacles of life and arrive on the other side with greater knowledge, change, and spiritual growth. However, we must be willing to sit in the fires of life.

Tapas is the willingness to be burned and blessed, as both lead to spiritual growth.

4. Self-Study – Svadhyaya

Self-study draws us closer to our goal of witness consciousness. We must understand that we are divinity. By taking a hard look at ourselves, the good and the bad, we can begin to strip away those things that do not serve our greatest purpose.

We can gain a better understanding of ourselves by removing the boxes we have created, which are adorned by our ego, allowing us to step back from a false reality and live in greater harmony with the source - connecting us to our true selves.

5. Surrender – Ishvara Pranidhana

Surrender is the final step in stripping away our ego and living in flow with life around us. It invites us to stop fighting life and open our hearts, so we may align with our higher calling and being.

We must accept each moment as it presents itself in a non-judgmental manner and aligns us with the greatness of life that exists outside ourselves and our ego. Once we surrender to the opportunities of life, it will flow like water, and the magic of life continues to blossom.

For a more in-depth read on the Yamas and Ni-Yamas, we recommend The Yamas & Ni-Yamas – Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele.