Niyama - restraining, controlling, lowering (as the voice), agreement

niyama - restraining, holding back, keeping down

  • m. restraining , checking , holding back , preventing , controlling Mn. MBh. &c
  • keeping down , lowering (as the voice) RPra1t.
  • limitation , restriction (°mena ind. with restrictions i.e. under certain conditions Car. )
  • reduction or restriction to (with loc. or prati) , determination , definition Gr2S3rS. Pra1t. MBh. Ra1jat.
  • any fixed rule or law , necessity , obligation (°mena ind. and °māt ind. as a rule , necessarily , invariably , surely) Var. R. Sus3r. &c
  • agreement , contract , promise , vow R. Katha1s.
  • any act of voluntary penance or meritorious piety (esp. a lesser vow or minor observance dependent on external conditions and not so obligatory as yama q.v.)
  • a partic. process applied to minerals (esp. to quicksilver w.r. °yāma) Cat.
  • (in rhet.) a common-place , any conventional expression or usual comparison
  • (in mīmāṃsā phil.) a rule or precept (laying down or specifying something otherwise optional)
  • restraint of the mind (the 2nd of the 8 steps of meditation in yoga)
  • performing five positive duties MWB. 239
  • Necessity or Law personified as a son of dharma and dhṛti Pur.


In numerous scriptures including the Shandilya and Varuha Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, the Tirumantiram of Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a set of prescribed actions are codified as niyamas, observances, requirements, obligations. In the above texts, these are ten in number, except in Patanjali's work, which lists only five.
The ten traditional Niyamas are:

  • Hri: remorse, being modest and showing shame for misdeeds;
  • Santosha: contentment; being satisfied with the resources at hand - therefore not desiring more;
  • Dana: giving, without thought of reward;
  • Astikya: faith, believing firmly in the teacher, the teachings and the path to enlightenment;
  • Ishvarapujana: worship of the Lord, the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation, the return to the source;
  • Siddhanta shravana: scriptural listening, studying the teachings and listening to the wise of one's lineage;
  • Mati: cognition, developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru's guidance;
  • Vrata: sacred vows, fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully;
  • Japa: recitation, chanting mantras daily;
  • Tapas: the endurance of the opposites; hunger and thirst, heat and cold, standing and sitting etc.

In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the Niyamas are the second limb of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga.
They are found in the Sadhana Pada Verse 32 as:

  • Shaucha: cleanliness of body and mind. in the traditional codification, this item is listed under Yamas; this word means purity.
  • Santosha: satisfaction; satisfied with what one has; contentment.
  • Tapas: austerity.
  • Svādhyāya: study of the Vedic scriptures to know more about God and the soul, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
  • Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to (or worship of) God.

- Wikipedia entry