The foundation of any society is its’ code of conduct, without which it would cease to exist as a group. These rules may be clearly defined such as in governments and religions, or be unwritten such as in families and social groups, eg teenagers.
Just as the letters of the alphabet could not be randomly reorganized without words and sentences losing their meaning, the foundation of any system could not be randomly reorganized without completely changing its’ dynamics.
This is very obvious in the discipline of Yoga, the amazing science which concerns itself with human’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development. Yoga without consideration of its’ ethics loses a great deal of its’ transformational power. A Yoga which is limited to a physical practice, will provide physical benefits only, but without the totality of practices will lose its’ value as a path towards a blissful and enlightened existence.
Just as praying is not in the kneeling, Yoga is not in the postures, but in the whole of practices. The path of Yoga is eightfold and progressive, and it is imperative that its’ moral and ethical foundation informs all the other steps.
The benefits a brilliant mind could contribute to society cannot exist without the involvement of the heart. The benefits Yoga could provide to human kind cannot exist without the desire to develop one’s own humanity.
And thus,Yoga has the Yamas and the Niyamas.
Yama are the guidelines towards creating a happy social environment, Niyama concerns itself with the internal development of the human entity.
The five Yamas are : Ahimsa (non violence) – Satya (truthfulness) – Asteya (non stealing) – Bramacharya (sexual responsibility) – Aparigraha (abstinence from greed).
The five Niyamas are : Sauca (purity) – Santosa (contentment) – Tapas (austerity, commitment) – Svadhyaya (self study) – Isvara Pranidhana (surrendering one’s actions to a higher principle)