Yama are universal in their application, on the other hand, Niyama are rules of conduct applicable to individual discipline. Patanjali listed the following five Niyama:-
Purity of blood is essential for well being. While good habits like bathing purify it externally, asana and pranayama cleanse it internally. The practice of asana tones the entire body and removes the toxins and impurities caused by over indulgence. But more important than the physical cleansing of the body is the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride. Still more important is the cleansing of the intellect(buddhi) of the impure thoughts. The impurities of the mind are washed off in the waters of adoration. The impurities of the intellect and reason are burned off in the fire of svadhyaya (study of the self). This internal cleansing gives radiance and joy.
Santosa(contentment) has to be cultivated. A mind that is not content cannot concentrate. Contentment gives bliss. A contented man is complete and blessed for he has known truth and joy.
Contentment and tranquility are states of mind. There is contentment and tranquility when the flame of spirit does not waver in the wind of desire.
Tapas is derived from the word ‘Tap’ which means to burn, blaze, shine by heat. It therefore means burning effort under all circumstances to achieve a definite goal in life. It involves purification and self-discipline.
Tapas is the conscious effort to achieve ultimate union with the Divine. Tapas is of three types. It may relate to the body, to speech or to the mind.
By tapas one develops strength in body, mind and character. He gains courage and wisdom, integrity, straightforwardness and simplicity.
Sva means self and adhyaya means study or education. Therefore, it means education of the self. The person practicing svadyaya reads his own book of life, at the same time he writes and revises it. He starts to realise that all creation is meant for adoration rather than for enjoyment. It will put an end to ignorance and bring knowledge. Ignorance has no beginning, but it has an end. There is a beginning but no end to knowledge.
It is the practice of fully surrendering oneself to God, Nature, Creation, by whatever name you call it. The name of the Lord id like the Sun, dispelling all darkness. The moon is full when it faces the sun. The individual soul experiences fullness when it faces the Lord. If the shadow of the earth comes between the full moon and the sun there is an eclipse. If the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘MINE’ casts its shadow upon the experience of fullness, all efforts of the individual to gain peace are futile.
Actions mirror a man’s personality better than his words.