The Yamas & Niyamas:
Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice
by Deborah Adele, ERYT-500.

Book reviews

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Finally, a (great) book on the yamas and niyamas
For me most of the classical commentaries on the yamas and niyamas read like a shot of vodka. They’re pure and quick, and when I’m done I’m not sure what hit me.

Then there’s the Shirley Temple experience of reading about the yamas and niyamas in the popular media. (Wow, is that ever sweet! But um…wasn’t there supposed to be something in it???)

By contrast, I’ve just finished reading a new commentary that went down like a glass of really good wine. It has substance, overtones, complexity, and it bears the flavor of something lovingly aged and bottled with care.

Like the taste of a fine wine, the wisdom of Deborah Adele’s The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice lingers nicely after the sip.

It illustrates the shades of meanings of each ethical principal with copious examples – brief vignettes from the life of the author, folk stories from myriad traditions, moving quotations from luminaries of all stripes. One of my many favorites is from her discussion of the niyama of self-study:

There is a Cherokee story in which the grandfather is explaining to his grandson that two animals live inside his heart, a wolf and a lamb. When the grandson asks what he is to do, the grandfather replies, 'Feed the lamb.'"

Think about that little grain of wisdom for a minute. If it doesn’t start a pearl growing in you, there are countless others in the book that may.

But what really distinguishes her commentary from the others I’ve read is its consistent emphasis on the relationships between ethical principles. Focusing on one in each chapter, she demonstrates how deeply the ten yamas and niyamas interdepend. And she illustrates over and over again how they relate to the value systems we apply - whether consciously or unconsciously - in every moment of our daily lives.

This is a humble book. Its cover art may not grab your eyeballs on Amazon, and if you crack it open you won’t find soulful photos or glossies of gods and chakras. You’ll probably finish reading it in a few hours. But even a small investment in this luminous paperback may leave you permantently richer.
~ Review by Mid Walsh from Elephant Journal

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Just finished reading the book. I started it while on vacation 2 weeks ago and flew through it. Absolutely loved it. I feel so grateful to be in Duluth and to have found Yoga North. I look forward to participating in some of the workshops and rereading the book to try to really incoporate it into my life. Thank you so much Deborah for doing what you do!
~ Disha Mookherjee (Comment taken from Yoga North's Facebook page.)

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Really great book
In my opinion, this is the best and most important book on yoga to be released in a long time. Why? Because the ten yamas and niyamas -as specified by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras- are at the core of yoga and (I believe) essential for real personal growth. And yet they are given cursory treatment by many if not most yoga teachers in the west, who seem unaware of the subtle facets and profound qualities of these "jewels." And they are ignored by many of today's mental health professionals, who seem unaware that modern psychotherapeutic approaches are embedded in yoga's prescriptions for "ethical" practice of restraints and observances. Somebody really needed to write a book on this! And I must say, Deborah Adele really delivers the goods.

Take for instance, Adele's chapter on Satya (truthfulness, honesty). It is a work of art in its own right, offering the wisdom and clarity one needs to liberate powerful forces within oneself. In this chapter, Adele includes the sensible yet unusual insights of Carl Jung, Yogiraj Achala, and Mahatma Gandhi, among others, along with her own hands-on understanding. In the process, Adele addresses, for all of us, the fear (dangerousness) involved with being completely truthful, the differences between "Nice" and "Real," the epic partnership between truth (satya) and nonviolence (ahimsa), and the value of conducting our own Gandhi-esque "experiments" in truth.

There is so much more to this chapter than the glimpse I've given here, but I hope I've communicated the fact that this chapter (and the book as a whole) has great depth and breadth. It is evident that Adele has immersed herself in the yamas and niyamas, emerging with lessons, teachings, and insights that could be of value to anyone. Highly recommended. I learned plenty.

The author's website provides lots of useful supplementary material, including some excellent video overviews, radio interviews and discussions. I liked the fact that Adele SOUNDED like a gentle, wise, effective person.

I confess that I have a bias here. I believe that my own life has been influenced, and even transformed, whenever I've aligned with the yamas and niyamas over the last 15+ years. And as a result, I was in the process of writing my own (first) book on this long-neglected topic, emphasizing how it relates to progress in psychotherapy. Well, I still think there's a future in that book! Suffice it to say that I share the author's enthusiasm for her topic.
~ David H. Peterzell, Ph.D., Ph.D. (Comment taken from Amazon).

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Great aid for my Yoga Teacher Training Course
This year I am doing a Yoga Teacher Training Course, it's 420 hours all up. First up in our course we laid the foundations, which is the studying of the Yamas and the Niyamas. I loved them, they made total sense to me. What a great set of guides to help you steer your life.

However, my notes didnt go deep enough for me. So I googled Yamas and Niyamas and found this book. WOW. Its a wonderful read for anyone, even if they aren't studying. I love how she expanded on Ahimsa, non violence. It runs so much deeper than I imagined. I used to be a "rescuer" when my friends were in trouble, now I can see how what I was doing wasn't helping them and how I can support them on their path.

Deborah, thank you for writing such an awesome book. Children should study these guides in school!
~ No 1 fan, Sara Spitzer (Comment taken from Amazon).

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Summary: Beautiful! Rating: 5 stars on Amazon
This book is a beautiful guide to yoga as a lifestyle. This lifestyle is not about flat stomachs and gym perfect bodies, but rather about yogic living as a way to be in communion with Spirit while fully living with the joys and challenges of modern life. I found this book to be so helpful in my personal life that I am now using it as the text for a course I teach. This book is a must read for anyone who wants their life to fully reflect their deepest spiritual values.
~ Roger Sams "Dancing Paradox"

Summary: Yamas and Niyamas. Rating: 5 stars on Amazon
A gem of a book, Adele makes the ancient information so practical and succinctly puts it into a common person's vernacular. Very inciteful information for any serious student of yoga.
~ Rachel Stein "Book Crone"

Summary: Thought Provoking, Great Introduction to Yoga Philosophy. Rating: 5 stars on Amazon
I found this book to be a wonderful introduction to Yoga philosophy, and a fantastic overview of the Yamas and Niyamas. I knew very little of the topic beforehand, and am inspired to delve deeper after reading this book. I enjoyed the real world examples that Adele uses to explain the principles, and found the questions at the end of chapters to be thought provoking. I want to bring it to my book club to read with them...
~ E. Frykman

*The 3 reviews above are from Amazon.com but are compiled on ebook30.com with an overview of the book.

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The yamas and niyamas are the ten guidelines for leading a positive and productive life. Author Deborah Adele has provided a hands-on and easy to grasp compendium on the yamas and niyamas in her book, The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice.

The best part of this book is the weekly guided tour of yamas and niyamas that Adele offers the readers at the end of each chapter. She suggests ways the reader can reflect and improve upon their approach to these tenents. Her guidelines are simple but very thought-provoking and useful... Adele has broken down some difficult concepts into easily grasped ideas which are useful to students of both yoga and yogic philosphy.
~ Namaste Book Club (To visit the web page and read the complete review click here.)

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I've purchased your book and wanted to share that it has been extremely valuable for me in more fully understanding the Yamas and Niyamas! I'm a certified yoga instructor, and have been yearning for material to help me personally and in my teaching - this book is it.
~ Thank you. Maripat Abbott, www.ManifestingPossibilities.com.

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The author divides the fundamental elements of yoga into two parts, Yamas and Niyamas, that encompass the whole gamut of a pure lifestyle guided by non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess and non-possessiveness. In order to achieve these virtues one must imbibe purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender. Devoting one chapter to each of these noble virtues, she explains the spiritual meaning of these terms and tells us how to adopt them in daily life. "The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation for studying our own perception and for boosting our anticipatory confidence as we deal with the challenges and joys of our collective and singular humanity," she says. It is refreshing to know how yogic philosophy can change our lives for the better. These guidelines will certainly motivate readers to get rid of negative habits and adopt positive values.
~ Tathaastu Magazine, August-September 2009, www.tathaastumag.com (To see a PDF of the whole review click here.)

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Watching the videos makes me feel like I am sitting in one of the classes you teach...anytime I want! Each time I hear it, it is more lovely. Your book continues to be an exciting guide to the Yamas & Niyamas. Thank you for the work you do!
~ Namaste. Joy - (Comment taken from Deborah's blog post, Some Thoughts on Truthfulness.)

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Your video posts inspire me. As I prepare to spend the next school year living with and aspiring to embody the Yamas & Niyamas, I find myself excited with the thought that I can build my adhikara, my capacity to hold the teachings and the right to know. You inspire me to notice all of the ways I am stealing, particularly by hoarding, to let go of old ways of being that are fear-based and to allow myself to trust my growing capacity to live in a state of trust and surrender. I am excited to use your wonderful book as a guidebook for deepening my own spiritual practice throughout the coming year. I know that if I set aside one year to really pay attention to embodying these ideals that I will be profoundly changed. Thank you for your offerings here.
~ Roger Sams - (Comment taken from Deborah's blog posts, Plugging Your Holes and Youtube on Nonviolence.)

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I’ve spent time with Mataji several times over the past few years as recently as last month. During this visit I came to begin to understand her special powers. I’ll have something specific on my mind to speak with her about and invariably when I sit with her, she’ll start talking about my question without my saying a single word. It’s astonishing and that’s how I came to process this beautiful book, The Yamas and Niyamas. I was, in fact, leaving for the train station to return to Taipei at the end of my stay at the ashram when she handed me the book. Needless to say it is exactly what I needed.
~ Greg - (Comment taken from Deborah's blog post, Surrendering Everything.)

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The Yamas and Niyamas are timetested principles for right living, dharmic living, the kind of life that frees us from karmas and is essential on the spiritual path. With week-by-week guidance...the author presents a gentle introduction and guidance for this powerful practice.
~ Light of Consciousness Magazine, Autumn 2009. www.Light-of-Consciousness.org (To see a PDF of the whole review click here.)

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Thank you for this video. I received your beautiful book from the ashram I was visiting in India last month and I'm taking my time working through it and journaling as you suggest. It's very powerful. I'll be looking forward to other postings here.
~ Peace. Comment from Aianig on the You Tube video Yamas and Niyamas - Overview.



Advance Praise for The Yamas & Niyamas

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"Beyond moral precepts, the Yamas and Niyamas are guidelines for living a healthy life. With the voice of a storyteller, Deborah Adele brings this ancient wisdom to light with modern tales common to us all. This is the behavior we need for a sustainable world."
~ Anodea Judith, Ph.D., author of Eastern Body-Western Mind and Waking the Global Heart www.SacredCenters.com

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"Deborah's book, The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice, really brings these jewels to the light and to the world. As a yoga teacher I have been looking for something for my students that can lead them to join me in a life long love affair with the Yamas and Niyamas - and this is it!"
~ Dharmi Cunningham, owner Turning Light Studio, N. Yarmouth, Maine www.turninglight.com

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"Deborah Adele has written a jewel of a book. In this volume, we find not only the practical insights of classical yoga, but simultaneously the deep wisdom, subtlety, and joyfulness that these practices produce. The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice is a must read for anyone interested in spiritual wisdom."
~ Phil Nuernberger, Ph.D., author of The Warrior Sage and Strong and Fearless: The Quest for Personal Power www.mindmaster.com

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"After reading The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice, I wanted to return all my other books to the shelf and just practice these teachings. The insights that Deborah Adele draws from yoga's ethical guidelines have helped me to better understand my Christian faith. I am buying a copy of this book for each and every member of my prayer groups."
~ Rev. Douglas Dirks, Abilene, Texas

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"The Yamas & Niyamas is a great book-one that I've been looking for, for a long time. Deborah's style is fresh and truthful, her writing inviting and inspiring, and her suggestions for integrating the concepts into life - downright simple. You'll learn a lot from this book and along the way you'll have fun exploring yourself."
~ Susi Hately Aldous, BSc., yoga teacher, Author of Anatomy and Asana and The Art of Slowing Down. Founder of Functional Synergy, www.anatomyandasana.com

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"Compassionate, lively, and wise, The Yamas & Niyamas provides a portal into a recognition beyond tradition; a living way to relate from our highest vibratory level into our present world, regardless of cultural or religious background. Like the Tao expresses itself as yin and yang, these restraints and observances are presented as the swinging doors into the unconditional, liberating us from the bonds of our day to day stressors and uniting us with the One truth for which we all hunger. It fed me."
~ Randine Lewis, MSOM, L.Ac., Ph.D., Founder of The Fertile Soul: www.thefertilesoul.com, Author of The Infertility Cure and The Way of The Fertile Soul.



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