Avoiding theories and explanations about Yama and Niyama Principles, I shall try to give a practical understanding about how exactly you can implement them in your life. Yama and Niyama Principles are to be lived every day. This is very important.
YAMA has five Universal values - Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Aparigraha and Brahmacharya.
Ahimsa (Non-violence) is about being non-violent at every level. Not hurting others, is only one part of Ahimsa; it is also treating everyone, the entire Creation, with kindness and love. Masters like Christ lived Ahimsa. Of course, this requires a kind of Spiritual awakening in us. If we are really aware that the Spirit in me, is in everyone and everything else, then Ahimsa will surface naturally from within. Fear and insecurity prompt violence. If we can totally tune up to God, surrender to Him and completely repose our faith in Him, He will protect us. Then, where is fear? Where is insecurity? So, Ahimsa also means, surrendering to God, having total faith in Him.
Satya (Truth) is not just speaking truth and not telling lies, it is living the Truth at all levels, at all times. If you can do this, no more Meditations are required. It is also not merely living the Truth; it is experiencing the Truth, thereby experiencing God Himself. This experience of God is not just logical, it is a reality. This experience will completely divinize us at every level. Our whole life gets divinized; to achieve this we begin with Meditations.
Asteya means non-stealing, not taking things that do not belong to us. Actually, what makes us grab other’s things? May be, it is just strong desire. When it grows, it blinds us to all types of scruples, the right and wrong in life.
Aparigraha means non-hoarding, not gathering more than we need. We will be depriving someone else, if we gather more. Aparigraha is selfishness.
Brahmacharya is commonly understood as celibacy. But it is not just that. When we move in life, always tuned to God, when we live in God, that is Brahmacharya. I don't know from where the idea of celibacy and sex came. May be, when we are living in God-awareness, we don't even think of food let alone sex. People have said in the past that Brahmacharya also means fasting. May be at some time in history, it is always possible that for a certain group, a Master would have tried to explain only for that timeframe and he would have emphasized certain things. Later on, these got generalized. We should not generalize or take such matters out of context.
NIYAMA is a set of individual disciplines - Shoucha, Santosha, Tapas, Swadhyaya and Ishwara Pranidhana,
Shoucha refers to cleanliness at all the levels of body, mind and intellect. Not only that, we have to also make sure that everything around us is also clean; keep this entire globe, clean. I am talking of cleanliness in a Spiritual sense. We have to keep everything pure. Every day we must meditate and try to burn out the Karmas of this earth. We visualize that the whole earth is covered by golden light, the Light form of energy. Many groups visualize a clean earth, covered with golden light.
Santosha is contentment in material life. It is also drawing a line for our requirements. There is absolutely nothing wrong in having material comforts. Let us remember that mere poverty does not make a person Spiritual. The inner attitude is important.
Tapas means ‘to shine’. When we are pure, we shine with the inner Light. Tapas is gathering more Light. This Light carries a lot of knowledge, energies and powers. The higher knowledge removes ignorance; these energies burn out all our Karmas. When ignorance is removed, automatically, the Light shines. Tapas is shining with knowledge and also with Love.
Swadhyaya means study of our own Self. But Swadhyaya is commonly understood as studying scriptures. We can begin with book knowledge; but we can know Him only by direct experience, by Meditations. Meditations will lead us to the highest experience, the experience of the Self, the experience God in Samadhi, in expanded Consciousness.
Ishwara Pranidhana means, offering everything to God, surrendering. It is accepting everything, whatever God ordains for us. It happens when we have great trust in Him. Ishwara Pranidhana is having great trust and faith in God. This comes out of great Love and by developing humility.
Let everyone of us try to put these Principles into practice. If we can practise even one of these, automatically, we will be practising everything else. That is the beauty of Spirituality.
(Source: Guruji Speaks Volume 3)