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Difference Between Yama and Niyama (With Table)

Yama vs Niyama

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

In the map of yoga, Yama and Niyama are the first two pillars that help the yoga sutras to maintain its actual conception.

If anyone wants to master the art of yoga, he or she has to know every limb of it.

Both these terms teach us the codes of conduct but the key difference between Yama and Niyama lies in the fact that the concept of Yama tells us how to nurture our ideals and principles for the betterment of the outside world, whereas in the case of Niyama, our spiritual energy regarding the moral principles of our life should be focused on how we should treat ourselves with that.


 

Comparison Table Between Yama and Niyama (in Tabular Form)

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 own selves.
PracticeYama's practice is ethical and selective.Niyama’s practice is learning discipline to do positive things for ownself.
PositionIn yoga, Yama’s position is number one.In yoga, Niyama’s position is number two.
TeachesYama teaches us how to be non-violent, truthful, non-stealing, using energy rightfully, and non-greed.Niyama teaches us about purity, contentment, will power, self-study, and surrendering oneself to the higher force.

 

What is Yama?

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

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

This will help a person by developing and molding their firm and clear characteristics and it will 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.

By eliminating this negative feature, one can achieve immense affection towards nature and everything else.

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 not real.

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 in a positive and right way 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 which is known as Aparigraha, meaning no-greediness. By this, one can master the art of controlling their unnecessary desires, hunger, and impatience, etc.

Yama is the first limb of yoga
 

What is Niyama?

Niyama means devotion to oneself for the betterment of 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, one can say Niyama is observing certain principles by controlling the expressions and actions towards ownself.

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

The second wheel of Niyama is Santosha and it means learning to regulate one’s source of need or desire. Learning how to master own mind, how to be patient, how to feel peace in every form of chaos is what a person can have by practicing Santosha.

After that comes Tapas and it can have an impact on 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. In a traditional way, it means self-study. When someone wants to improve himself then he can study certain acts or deeds which will help him to reflect his life in different circumstances. It helps by removing confusion and creating a strong mind.

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

Niyama is devotional to self

Main Differences Between Yama and Niyama

  1. In Patanjali’s yoga sutras, both terms belong to the major 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 one cannot be achieved properly.
  2. Yama means having spiritual control over the existence of oneself and learning to do great work for the outside world for the advancement of every creation. In a different manner, Niyama means having control over own mind, learning to nurture, and take 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 on how to have a balanced peaceful life.
  4. The practice of Yama is based on ethical morals. On the other hand, Niyama is based on having 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 the energy, and no greediness.
  6. Whereas, Niyama is designed to show respect to one’s own body and mind. So it teaches innocence, contentment, control of will power, self-study, and surrendering to one’s creator.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Yama and Niyama

  1. What are the 5 Yamas?

    Out of the eight Limbs that yoga has, Yamaha is the first limb. Yamaha is also known as the five restraints.

    The five yamas are: Ahinsa, Satya, Asteya, Mitahara, and Daya.

    They are basically related to the process of stealing, wasting energy, lying, violence, and possessiveness.

  2. What do you mean by Relaxative asanas?

    Relaxative asanas are the yoga positions which relaxes the mind, the body parts of the human being and insurance the overall wellbeing of the individual. It helps in improving the control over the voluntary muscles of the body.

    The main purpose of performing such asanas is to give the body some time to heal.

  3. What does Yama stay mean?

    The five yamas are Satya, Asteya, Ahinsa, Mitahara and Daya.

    Yamaha stay means that all these five qualities should stay inside the human being so as to make him pure from inside and remove all the toxic substances.

  4. What does niyama mean?

    Niyama in English means the rules for the well-defined methods of performing anything. Niyamas also tell how should an individual lead his life for becoming a good person.

    By following the niyamas in his life, a person can achieve anything that he wants and can claim control over all his body parts and desires.

  5. What is the first yama?

    The first Yamaha is ahinsa which in Hindi means nonviolence. This Yama focuses on the fact that a person should believe in nonviolence not only in the physical terms but also use words that do not hurt other people.

  6. What is Asteya Yama?

    The Asteya Yama means non stealing in Hindi language. It teaches the fact that stealing something which does not belong to you from others is a sin.

    Man should have control over his Desire so that he does not steal anything.

    The stealing is not Limited to the materialistic things but also stealing the thoughts of others.

  7. What are the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga as presented by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras?

    Patanjali gave eight Limbs of ashtanga yoga. They are as follows they are as follows: Yama, niyamas, Asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana .

    The last limba is Samadhi in which a person lives the real world.


 

Conclusion

When someone just starts to do yoga, it might be overwhelming in the beginning, but with time and practice, one can include ideas and principles in his life slowly.

If a person wants to seriously think about mastering the sectors of yoga, then knowing and learning about Yama and Niyama can bring so many advantages in life.

Thus, it will be easier to have a calm and creative mind in order to help oneself and others in need.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Yama and Niyama

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Yama and Niyama. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Word Cloud for Yama and Niyama

 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4959332/
  2. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/pg_10?0::NO:10:P10_ACCESSION_NUM:csu1481124015984363

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