Yamas and Niyamas Workshop Template

ethics, workshop

Bringing our space into harmony (purity)

o You will need a journal and a pen
o Mats in a circle (everyone facing one another)
o Remove other items from the space


A. Be ready to come into the space for about two hours (10 minutes)
• In preparation, restroom, water, notebook and a pen, expect to spend the next 75 or so minutes in the room
B. Go through each of the Yamas and Niyamas (10 minutes)
C. Writing exercise-responsive writing (30-40 minutes)
D. Placing all items out of the practice space including books and pens, staying together in the space, not scattering our energy by leaving. (5 minutes)
E. Have your mat, 2 blocks & 2 bolsters (5 minutes)
F. Moving Meditation (25 minutes)
G. Discussion (20 minutes)

Writing Exercise

1. Ahimsa-Nonviolence

Question: What is a thought or action that creates violence in yourself?
What does nonviolence look like for you towards yourself?
Question: What is a thought or action violence towards others (move your thinking beyond your immediate circle, past parents, partners and children.)
How can you begin to practice nonviolence towards others?

2. Satya-Truthfullness

Consider: “The compassion of nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a personal weapon (p.51)

Question: How do you show up differently in different areas of your life?
Question: What is one way that you have changed and not acknowledged this in your self-expression to others?
Question: How can you express this unacknowledged, new, rising up part of yourself to others with nonviolence towards yourself and them?

3. Asteya-Nonstealing

Question: How do you steal from your future?
Question: What is an action you can take to build competency to help you no longer steal from your future?

4. Brahmacharya-Nonexcess
Consider: Many people focus on celibacy as a practice for nonexcess, I see limiting our diets in ways that can hurt our bodies or result from violent thoughts about our bodies. Nonexcess has a more subtle home in you. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive.”

Question: What ideas, actions, dreams, plans, present moment experiences make you come alive?
Question: What is one way you can do more of one of these?

5. Aparigraha-Nonpossessiveness

Consider: It is the nature of things to change. Being in this room is you being in the act of changing. When we fail to let things change or move on, they begin to disappoint us. “What we try to possess, possesses us.”(91)

Question: What is changing for you?
Question: How can you allow for this change?


1. Saucha-Purity

Consider: Purity is a practice within self and towards others. “Being pure with all the pieces of ourselves increase our staying power with our own suffering, intimacy, joy boredom, pain and anxiety. We become safe with ourselves and a safe place for others. We become able to sit with another with the need to fix them” (112)

Question: What are your scattered thoughts right now?
Question: After acknowledging them, what thought surprised you? Can you now be more present?

2. Saantosha-Contentment

Consider: Being content with our discontent is itself a gateway to the calm depths within. Think about it, it is easy to be content when we feel great and things are going our way and we like ourselves. But what about when chaos and interruptions abound o we feel bored or depressed? What then? (129)

Question: What emotions cause you to be pulled into discontent?
Question: What can you tell yourself (a mantra) to pull yourself from discontent into contentment?

3. Tapas-Self Discipline

Consider: Tapas has multiple meanings in the yogic tradition, heat, self-discipline. Sadhana the act of having a daily practice is where we build fire, self discipline. The consistency of practice brings change and fulfillment. (137-138)

Question: The question becomes for us, what are we practicing for?

4. Svadhyaya-Self Study

Consider: That self-study is about knowing our true identity. We cannot love or hate something about another person or the world unless it is also inside of us. When faced with a disharmony our tendency is to blame what is outside of us and then justify what we are thinking and feeling. We can be courageous and trace this disharmony back to ourselves. (150-153)

Question: Do this experiment now: without thinking write down the first 5 things that come to your mind that describe the WORLD as you see it.

(Cue- make sure that all have ‘caught up’ on their writing.) Statement: These are clues about yourself, consider them.

5. Ishvara Pranidhana-Surrender

Consider: As we learn to stop fighting life we can begin to act skillfully. Having nothing and wanting nothing; not keeping score, not trying to be richer, not being afraid of losing, not being particularly interested in our own personalities, learning with patience and grace.

Question: What about yourself do you fight?
Question: What grace & patience can you give yourself?