Yama & Niyama are variously described as rules of Ethics, yoga’s “Ten Commandments”, attitudes towards community & self, observances for dealing with others & self. The bottom line is that they are the foundation for practice.
One of the things that makes these principles fertile is the breadth of their application. Here’s an application to Personal Yoga Practice itself:
Above all, practice with Ahimsa, Non-violence:
practice is about self-observation, Svadyaya.
Notice your feeling, your breath, your body with kind attention
Respond with compassion and encouragement.
Be fierce in your commitment to being present. (tapas)
Be as clear in your estimation of your ability and need as you can be (satya)
Notice what bolsters your energy, intention and presence: cultivate this. (brahmacharya)
Don’t push past your limits: there is nothing you don’t have that you need. This includes yoga pose J (aparigraha)
Balance your practice in the context of other things: don’t steal time for practice from places you are responsible & don’t steal yoga time for places you are not. (asteya)
Make your actions intentional, focus on being present for your practice (saucha)
Allow yourself to feel the full measure of pleasure from what you’re giving to yourself (samtosha)
There’s nowhere to get to, no goal to attain. Set your foundations, follow through, evolve and let go! (Ishvara Pranidanani)