Book Review: The Yamas & Niyamas

Throughout my Yoga Teacher Training, I have been inundated with book recommendation after book recommendation, and now I have a long list of books that I’m hoping to read over the course of the next year. So I decided that while I make my way through the list, I’m going to make an effort to write a review about each book.

I recently finished reading The Yamas & Niyamas, by Deborah Adele, as was recommended to me by one of my teachers. So it will be the first of the books I review.

Adele’s The Yamas & Niyamas is about a set of Yogic guidelines that are designed to help us live our best lives. It addresses first each of the 5 Yamas followed second by each of the 5 Niyamas, and relates their meanings through a series of brief, relatable stories. Adele recounts experiences from her personal life that demonstrate how she has been able to develop her understanding of these Jewels, as she calls them, and incorporate them into her life.

The Yamas are all about the ways in which we interact with the world. They dictate that if we practice non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-greed, and non-excess, that we can cultivate a better relationship with the world.

The Niyamas on the other hand are all about how we interact with ourselves, and they dictate that if we can practice purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender, that we can cultivate a better relationship with ourselves.

Over all, I quite enjoyed the book, and I found it to be extremely helpful in terms of developing my own understanding of these guidelines for life. As I was reading, I found myself thinking about the ways in which I do and do not put the Yamas and Niyamas into practice.

I recollected times that I’ve thought less than kind thoughts about myself (non-violence), or moments in which I’ve taken time from others (non-stealing), or failed to surrender to my need for control in certain situations (surrender). It was eye opening, and it reminded me that I’ve still got a ways to go in my personal yoga journey.

One really neat aspect about this book is that it offers journaling exercises to help readers deepen their understanding of the guidelines and even go as far as to further incorporate them into their lives. I have not yet done any of the journaling exercises, but I am hoping to work through them at some point.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Yamas and Niyamas, or if you’re looking for a set of guidelines by which to live your life, then I would certainly recommend this book. If nothing else, it’s a gentle reminder for how to be a better human being.

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