Make your own free website on
Handouts For Teachers


Yoga Dictionary



UniWeb Design - Animated Unicorn
UniWeb Design Tallahassee, Florida USA
Florida State University Certified Webmaster
Teaching Handouts
Compiled by R. John Allcorn

N - R


THE NIYAMAS (Observances - The 2nd Limb of Yoga)
by R. John Allcorn and Julia Miner

SAUCA - Cleanliness/Purity - Sutra 2.40

Keeping the body clean and focusing on it helps clarify the division between our physical and spiritual selves: bathing, teeth, Kryas (internal cleansing)

"On the mental level, [Sauca] refers to keeping our minds pure, steady, and free of disturbing emotions... unclouded by distractions." (3, p1) Working to rid yourself of pride, vanity, jealousy, anger, greed and envy.

"Our attachment to outward things, which is both transient and superficial is reduced." (1, p.179)

SAMTOSA - Contentment, modesty - Sutra 2.42

Being content with what is and with what we have mentally frees us to focus on our spiritual path.

Samtosa is "modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have....the real meaning of samtosa-to accept what
happens." (1, p101)

"We learn to detach from our daily experience and become the witness not the judge." (3, p1)

Contented with yourself as you are yet moving toward constant improvement.

Contented with the basic needs of life without attachment to other stuff.

TAPAS - Heating up, purifying, austerities - Sutra 2.43

Two "categories" of Tapas: First, the physical: diet, asana, breathing exercises. Secondly, the mental: Facing and accepting life's challenges, overcoming them and, thereby, strengthening one's confidence or "metal strength." This helps one contend with the Klesha "Abinivesa" or fear of the future or unknown, an obstacle to spiritual growth.

"Tapas refers to the activity of keeping the body fit. Literally it means to heat the body and, by doing so, to cleanse it.... Another form of tapas is paying attention to what we eat." (1, p101)

"Tapas are practices such as asana and pranayama that can help us to remove blocks and tensions, both physical and mental." (2, p137)

" heat or glow. Through tapas, the solar spirit shines brightly through its physical body, which is our sun....Tapas is any practice that pushes the mind against its own limits; the key ingredient of tapas is endurance...voluntary self challenge as a means to spiritual growth." (11, p28)

"Tapas begins with temporarily or permanently denying ourselves a particular desire.... The Bhagavad Gita (17.14-16) speaks of three kinds of tapas: austerity of body, speech, and mind." (11, p29)

Facing and accepting life's challenges, thereby gaining confidence.

SVADYAYA - Study/Self knowledge - Sutra 2.44

Study a spiritual text and apply the information to yourself. With Svadyaya you can learn about oneself and learn or create direction for your life. Compare the texts from different philosophies and religions and look for similarities in what they say collectively. Looking for differences is easy. Apply the principles found therein to your self and your lifestyle. Develop your own behavioral principles and practice them "deliberately" or intentionally.
John Allcorn

"Study to understand the self....associating with like-minded, spiritually-focused people....repetition of a personal
mantra." (31, 34)


First, do the best you can and then leave the rest or the results to Ishvara. Ishvara is one's concept of something beyond or within our physical selves which could be God, nature, or the Divine in all things. The AA slogan of "Let go and let God" points directly to this Yoga concept. "Yoga doesn't have a dogma. It doesn't have a system of belief that believes in this God or that God." (20, p.35)

"Understanding our limitations, believing in something larger, has to be very clear. Our senses can't take us further, they have a limitation and we have to go beyond our senses, beyond our logic and reasoning, beyond this brain activity and direct our emotions to a Higher Reality. You can call it God, a Higher Reality, the Benevolent Nature of the Universe, or Consciousness." (20, p.34)

"Yielding to [Isvara] is an expression of a belief that something exists that is higher than ourselves." (1, p130)

"In offering up all of our actions, we renounce the fruits of these actions and surrender our ego's attachment to particular outcomes." (3, p2)


1. Desikachar, T.K.V., The Heart of Yoga: Developing a personal practice. Inner Traditions International. Rochester, VT.

2. Prabhavananda, Swami and Christopher Isherwood, Trans. The Song of God Bhagavad-Gita. The New American Library, Inc. N.Y. 1972.

3. Shaw, Jane. Things to Know. Handout. April, 2002.

11. Feuerstein, Georg. "Heating up Your Practice." Yoga International . January 2003: 28-32.

20. Yogendra, Dr. Jayadeva and Hansaji Yogendra. The Yoga of Caring: Talks by Dr. Jayadeva and Hansaji Yogendra. Mumbai, India. Self Published, 1997.

31. Mosca, Johanna, Ph.D., Yoga Life. Sedona Spirit Yoga Publications. Sedona, AZ, 2000.

32. Sovik, Rolf. "The 5 niyamas (observances)." Yoga+Joyful Living. March-April: 43-46.
Top of Page

CONTACT: R. John Allcorn, M.A., E-RYT

Lotus Flower