One of the greatest benefits of being a yoga teacher is that it makes me a diligent student. Each month I use the Focus of the Month set by the studio where I teach to explore different aspect of yoga’s philosophical and ethical offerings. I hunt down related lessons in classic yogic texts along with research studies in positive psychology to prepare for my classes. I seek out music, poems, quotes, and stories to help bring the focus area to life for my students. It’s a gift to have this structure not only for my teaching practice but also for the self-study part of my continuing education in yoga.
I use a variety of resources for my studies including blogs, videos, workshops, and books. One recent addition to my library that I’m really enjoying is The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele. (The chapter on aparigraha, non-possessiveness, provided a great framework for the March focus “Let Go.”) Using everyday language and illustrations, Adele takes a deep dive into parts of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, specifically the five yamas (restraints) and five niyamas (observances) that make up the first two limbs of yoga.
Focusing one chapter on each yama and niyama, Adele uses real-life stories to give a down to earth look at the teachings. Each chapter ends with suggested practices to further cultivate the lesson. Adele also offers a corresponding website with free videos and downloadable teaching content, providing a robust platform for exploring these important yoga concepts.
The easily digestible content in the book combined with the digital material make learning the yamas and niyamas easily accessible. The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice is the perfect place to start for anyone who is ready to expand their knowledge of yoga beyond the asana practice.