Yama and Niyama

Walking the Path

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Online Course with Harshada Wagner

May 1 - July 3, 2023

Why Yama and Niyama?

Once the great Siddha Guru Neem Karol Baba (Mahārāji) was speaking to Bābā Rām Dāss. He said "No one does yoga anymore." He was speaking of hatha yoga - also known as ashtanga yoga. He said that from his point of view, the last 6 limbs can only be done when the practitioner was really practicing the first two; Yama and Niyama; and, from Mahāraji's point of view no one does.

The Yama and Niyama are ethical precepts and guiding behavioral principles. They are found in many classical texts. In the west, ten of them are most commonly known from the Patanjali Yoga Sutrā. Patanjali outlines 8 limbs of yoga including āsana (commonly misinterpreted as physical postures), prānāyāma (commonly misinterpreted as breathing exercises), prathyahāra (turning inward of attention), dhārana (meditation technique), dhyāna (meditation), and samādhi (meditative absorption). But before these six limbs, focused on inner practice are given two preliminary aims are there: Yama and Niyama. There are five of each, and they serve to guide aspirants into the right way of being, the right attitude to cultivate, and the best inner energetic environment to create to support their inner yoga. And they are deep.

The Yama are:

  • Ahimsā - non-malice
  • Satya - authenticity
  • Asteya - non stealing
  • Brahmacharya - control of sexual energy
  • Aparigraha - non hoarding

The Niyama are:

  • Shaucha - purity
  • Santosha - contentment
  • Tapas - austerity
  • Svadhyāya - sacred study
  • Ishvarapranidhāna - surrender to God.

As I said, other classical systems besides yoga have other great yama and niyama, but these are the basic 10. They are so rich, and so deep! Contemporary western commercial yoga has made the Yama and Niyama into sprinkles, like condiments that flavor our real practice (the physical āsana class). But if you take any one of these and actually endeavor to master them before doing practice - it’s an intense path. Classically, it was assumed that serious sādhakas were established in these as a prerequisite to other instruction. From this point of view, I must say, I agree with Maharāji.

In this course, we will be going deep into the exploration of each of the Yama and Niyama and exploring how we can apply them in our contemporary lives. I will weave in teachings from other traditions than Patanjali such as Bhakti, Non-dual Tantra, Sufism, and the Sahaja Siddha tradition.

Why? Because I agree with Maharāji's assessment. And he was speaking about Indian sādhakas in the 1960s! I find that there is a deep lack of this kind of inner cultivation in contemporary yoga scenes and even amongst serious practitioners. These 10 principles will provide a lens for us over 10 weeks to deepen our experience not just of practice, but of life itself.

Who This Course is For:

It's for anyone who deeply cares about yoga, and by yoga I mean the actual classical meaning of yoga. My definition of yoga is this:

Yoga is the process of discovering, owning, and expressing our innate, sacred, human magnificence.

Yoga has come to mean so much less than this. It has become, for most people who use the word, merely an exercise method. This course is for true students of yoga, yoga teachers, yoga-related business owners, and anyone who wants to use the potent alchemical medicine of applied yoga philosophy to change their experience of being alive.

How Does the Course Work:

We will take 10 weeks to go through the five Yama and five Niyama. Each week on Monday I will do a live broadcast class. People who are able to attend in person may attend in person, otherwise, people can attend the live broadcast on Zoom, or watch the replay which will be posted here on Teachable. Each class will feature an in-depth discussion on the Yama or Niyama of the week, guided practice, and questions and answers. In addition to the weekly class, notes, links, guided meditations and other resources will also be posted here along with an actively moderated comment section for every week.

The video links and all other resources will remain on the platform indefinitely for your reference and further study.

How Much Does It Cost?

The course is very affordable. Just $275 for the whole course. That's about the same amount you would pay to drop into a good weekly yoga class! (Earlybird discounts and other bundled offers will make it even less in some cases.)

*We recently removed PayPal as an option for payment through this page. But if you would like to use PayPal or Venmo to pay, you can. Just email [email protected] and we will let you know how to do it.

Your Instructor

Harshada David Wagner
Harshada David Wagner

Harshada Wagner has been teaching meditation and practical spirituality to all kinds of people since 1992. Classically trained in the Indian wisdom traditions of Vedanta, Yoga, Bhakti, and Tantric Shaivism, works as a dharma teacher, creative mindset consultant, and sacred life strategist for people from all walks of life. To his close friends and students, David is known as Harshada - a Sanskrit name given to him by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda in 1996. He is the author of On the Field of Dharma - a modern practical application of the Bhagavad Gita, and is the founder of Big Heart Meditation.

Along with his teaching work, Harshada is also a visual artist and proud father of two. He currently lives in Ojai California.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts May 1 and ends July 3! But you have indefinite access to all lessons and take as long as you want.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.

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