Difference Between Yama and Niyama

People who want a focused mind and peaceful harmony in their life do yoga for that. The principles of yoga boost one’s inner self to invent what is meant for their existence and not just what the world wants for them.


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In the map of yoga, Yama and Niyama are the first two pillars that help the yoga sutras maintain their conception. If anyone wants to master the art of yoga, he or she has to know every limb of it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Yama and Niyama are the first two limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, which focuses on developing ethical and moral principles.
  2. Yama consists of five moral precepts: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-covetousness.
  3. Niyama consists of five observances: purity, contentment, discipline, self-study, and surrender to a higher power.

Yama vs Niyama

Yama refers to Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy or moderation), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness), the five moral restraints. Niyama refers to the five personal observances or virtues that guide our behavior towards ourselves.

Yama vs Niyama

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Comparison Tabl

Parameter of ComparisonYamaNiyama
MeaningMastering spiritual control to do greatness to the outside world.Mastering spiritual control to help one’s inner self.
FocusYama’s focus is based on one’s relationships with the outside world.Niyama’s focus is based on one’s relationships with our self.
PracticeYama’s practice is ethical and selective.Niyama’s practice is learning discipline to do positive things for herself.
PositionIn yoga, Yama’s position is number one.In yoga, Niyama’s position is number two.
TeachersYama teaches us how to be non-violent, truthful, non-stealing, using energy rightfully, and non-greed.Niyama teaches us about purity, contentment, willpower, self-study, and surrendering oneself to a higher force.


What is Yama?

In yoga, Yama is the first limb among others, and it contains five wheels responsible mainly for our thoughts and manner of conducting ourselves toward different individualities or characters.

These five virtues create the fundamental base of sacred life. By maintaining the Yama, anyone can control their ideals and principles.

This will help a person develop and mould their firm and clear characteristics and convert a soul into a sanctified human being.  

The first wheel of Yama is known as Ahisma, meaning non-violence. It teaches a person to leave their harsh and destructive nature behind.

One can achieve immense affection towards nature and everything else by eliminating this negative feature.

The second wheel of Yama is known as Satya, and it means being truthful. It teaches a person to understand the original concept of the virtual presence or truth, which is inaccurate.

The third wheel is known as Asteya, which means non-stealing. Everyone has to have an ethical awareness by which he or she can understand the difference between doing right and wrong in every possible situation.

The fourth wheel is named Brahmacharya, and it means using one’s energy positively and correctly by restraining sexual energy and all sorts of negative forces.

This one teaches how not to look at someone and see the person as male or female rather than think of the person as a human being first.

After that comes the final one, known as Aparigraha, meaning no-greediness; by this, one can master the art of controlling their unnecessary desires, hunger, impatience, etc.


What is Niyama?

Niyama means devotion to oneself to improve a person’s inner self. If anyone wants to lead a healthy life and gain positive habits, then he or she should take care of their mind.

In other words, Niyama observes certain principles by controlling their expressions and actions towards herself.

This second pillar of yoga also has five wheels, as Yama. The first is known as Shaucha, meaning internal and external innocence. By practising this wheel, a person can reduce anger, greediness, lust, etc., and become pure in both exteriors.

The second wheel of Niyama is Santosha, which means learning to regulate one’s source of need or desire.

Learning how to master own mind, how to be patient, and how to feel peace in every form of chaos is what a person can have by practising Santosha.

After that comes Tapas, which can impact someone who wants to learn forgiveness, atonement, self-discipline, etc.

To love with the whole heart and to have balanced harmony in life, one needs to know how to forgive others and, most importantly, how to forgive ownself.

The third wheel is named Swadhyaya. Traditionally, it means self-study. When someone wants to improve, he can study certain acts or deeds that will help him reflect on his life in different circumstances.

It helps by removing confusion and creating a strong mind.

The last wheel of Niyama is Ishwara Pranidhana. It means surrendering ownself to a greater authority or God. This spiritual practice connects the mind with its creator, and there is no harm in it.

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Main Differences Between Yama and Niyama

  1. In Patanjali’s yoga sutras, both terms belong to the significant foundation, where Yama is the first one that needs to be learned when one wants to pursue yoga. On the other hand, Niyama comes right after that, and without mastering one, the other cannot be adequately achieved.
  2. Yama means having spiritual control over existence oneself and learning to do great work for the outside world to advance every creation. Differently, Niyama means having control over own mind, learning to nurture, and taking care of oneself for the betterment of the soul.
  3. In yoga, Yama’s main intention is to build a healthy relationship between a person and the outside world around him. And Niyama’s goal is to make a strong mind that will guide someone to having a balanced, peaceful life.
  4. The practice of Yama is based on ethical morals. On the other hand, Niyama is based on self-discipline.
  5. Yama is designed to express respect for other souls and things around a person. It teaches non-violent nature, truthfulness, non-stealing, the right use of energy, and no greediness.
  6. Niyama is designed to show respect for one’s body and mind. So it teaches innocence, contentment, control of willpower, self-study, and surrendering to one’s creator.
Difference Between X and Y 17
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4959332/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876201812000809
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