Yama Niyama and the Red Pajama Mama: Part 2

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Lotus flower

Lotus flower via wikipedia

Please visit Natural Parents Network to read about how I distilled my parenting philosophy Part 1: the Yamas and break down the Yamas.

Without much further ado, I present the Niyamas portion of my parenting philosophy:

The Yamas and Niyamas are two of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga. They are meant to be incorporated into any belief system that works for you. The idea is to gain better understanding of yourself and how you wish to live in the world. To me, this means exploring my Self and my role as parent. Nothing I have encountered in my life has forced me, in a wonderful, at times painful, way to really see my Self as I really am. The Yamas and Niyamas are my tools to accept and love the truth of who I am and how I act.

The Niyamas are much more fun for me to practice. While the Yamas (please see part 1) are tools to gently contain the inner tantruming ego-mind, the Niyamas are concrete ideals that you can dance with. They balance one another, especially when practiced in concert. I have included the Sanskrit names of the Yamas and Niyamas for precision. Interpretation is a very personal thing and these particular Sanskrit words are said to bring inner knowledge just by being read or held in the mind. They encompass ideas far larger than the tiny meanings I have listed. As with all Yoga philosophy, the Yamas and Niyamas are there for you to dance and play with, to sometimes challenge yourself with.

Take what you need, be open to what you think you might not need, and leave what doesn’t increase your joy.

The Niyamas: fixed observances or precepts

Saucha: cleanliness, purity, clarity

I enjoy Saucha a lot because it means several things. One of the interpretations is clarity of needs. I can use saucha to remember to shut my mouth and connect with my kids. For example, instead of lecturing (and probably being ignored by) my kids to clean up their room, I can take cleansing breaths then remember that we all want to do the best by one another. This will clarify my actions and help to align my needs and theirs. My needs for cleanliness and organization can better be served by observing how we can work together to clean up the space. Since my kids are young, this probably means making a game out of it. It always calls for patience and remembering their developmental stages. My kids and I read Tiger, Tiger, Is it True? to help them understand what I mean when I take my deep breaths to let go of emotions and get in touch with my needs.

Saucha also refers to routines for family rhythms and care for the body. I work on flowing from one activity to another with as much gentleness as possible in regard to transitions. I try to plan ahead to have things ready and put things in their place when I can for this reason. I’ve been totally failing at this part of saucha lately. As for hygiene, well I make sure my family is clean, although most likely not neat.

Santosha: contentment

Content Yoga Baby

Content Yoga Baby

Santosha is the practice I use to remind me to live in the now. It helps to remember that no matter how challenging a situation feels, I am not my feelings. I can take a breather and detach myself from my anger or annoyance, then feel comfortable with accepting whatever happens. Modeling contentment with what I have, both material possessions and my limitations, means helping my kids. They see that what they have is enough. They see that they are enough. I like this book when we’re sharing about contentment.

This is another one of the principles that performs best in modeling for me. I find I’m lecturing or making evaluating pronouncements about contentment if I try to explain them, especially in the moment. The most I will do is to say something like, “I really enjoyed it when you decided you had enough train cars. The other children were able to play with you.”

Tapas: burning desire, passion and discipline

Tapas is something that comes naturally to me. At least the burning desire part does. The discipline part is what I work on most days. My interpretation of discipline is to use passion as a way to learn something new, as opposed to passion that can burn itself out. For example, my kids are born with the burning desire to learn new concepts. I help them harness this desire through homeschooling. My oldest son is passionate about Star Wars. It’s easy for him to memorize every character and ship in the movies.

It is therefore easy to learn every subject through the lens of his passion for Star Wars. He can read Star Wars books, learn about space travel with the Millennium Falcon, or create art and use his imagination to build droids out of recycled paper. It’s truly endless how passions can be used to learn.

Discipline is also something I use only to support my children’s natural passion. I would never want to practice a form of discipline that would quash their normal uninhibited exploration. Gentle discipline and redirection are two important tools I’ve used to keep their fire lit without letting them burn down the house.

Svadhyaya: study which leads to knowledge of the self

This is a big one for me. I am constantly learning about mindful parenting and gentle discipline techniques in books, blogs, and in conversations with other parents. Parenting has become my path to find and accept my true Self. There is nothing like parenting to really spotlight all of those uncomfortable parts of myself that I would like to remain hidden. It can also bring out the best in me as a parent. The trick is to completely accept all of it, love myself, and keep chugging along to break patterns and replace them with new ideas. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is a fun book to read with kids so they understand this concept

Keep Calm and Yoga On

Keep Calm and Yoga On

I have also learned that taking time to practice Yoga and meditation are ways I can mentally palpate what I have learned and take it with me off the mat and into the day to day of parenting. On days that I cannot fit in Yoga or meditation, I try to find little pockets of time to read something. I usually end up with a child or two curled up on my lap asking me to read out loud to them. This often invites fascinating conversation as I hear their viewpoints on parenting.

Isvara pranidhanani: surrender to the knowledge that your inner Self is always reaching toward the good

This one is key. It also brings me full circle to the Yama of Ahimsa and practicing self compassion. All I have to do is look at my children sleeping to recall that our innate nature strives for goodness. You can interpret this to be in line with your spiritual or religious practices as well-or not. It can mean surrendering to your/universe/deity/etc highest, best good. Either way, trusting in myself and in my children that we always strive to give to our best to one another. Sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed.

It is all okay. Everything is love. We are one.


The Yamas and Niyamas seem overwhelming, at least to me, when I think of them all together. This is what is so lovely about how they fit into the principles of Yoga. Of course, here I have pulled them out from the rest of the text, but they work within a lovely flow of family life. Sometimes one principle is emphasized over another. One principle may be extremely challenging for a time and then suddenly it relaxes into place. It is an ebb and flow of the tide, with the ocean of connection as the constant. I keep this framework to use for positive effect in parenting. Whenever I notice I’ve travelled away from being the parent I strive to be, I take another look at the Yamas and Niyamas.

Red PJs

Red PJs

And I must not forget about the red pajamas in my title (this paragraph was the first I wrote by the way.) Many times my sons and I stay in those pajamas all day and are just happy to be present with one another. Wearing pajamas reminds me to have fun and radiate joy as a parent. This is not something that comes to me automatically. I have to work to stay in the moment and be my true self. Of all the Yogic lessons I have learned from the Yamas and Niyamas, it’s the red pajama days that put it all into practice. I’ll be exploring the Yamas and Niyamas for the rest of my life. And I plan to always have a pair of red pajamasas my badge of “compassionate work in progress.”

Hey, if you can’t hide it, paint it red.

This post is in two sections, Part 2: The Niyamas is here at TouchstoneZ. It begins at Natural Parents Network with Part 1: The Yamas, which are kind of like Llamas wearing red pajamas, in that they don’t really mind which part you read first, as long as you give them a carrot. So, here’s a carrot: please stop by and leave some comment love on Part 1, as well.

Do any of these principles resonate with you? Do you ever rock your red pajamas? I’d love to hear from you.

More Information about the resources that inspire this parenting philosophy post:

Websites and Blogs:


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured‘s parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter’s first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom’s parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She’s come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations – Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It’s the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter’s life.
  • On Children — “Your children are not your children,” say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she’s using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it’s important for her daughter’s growth.
  • What’s a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh… — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there’s no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they’ll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she’s doing.

30 thoughts on “Yama Niyama and the Red Pajama Mama: Part 2

  1. Pingback: My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 Hybrid Rasta Mama

  2. Pingback: What’s a Mama to Do?

  3. Pingback: Moment by Moment Parenting | Peace For Parents

  4. Pingback: Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy | LivingMontessoriNow.com

  5. Pingback: Of Parenting Styles « Chronicles of a Nursing Mom

  6. As always, you inspire me – and make me think. I’ve been away from yoga for too long, I think – I’m going to have to find my way back. I’ve had trouble getting my head out of my yoga practice, but reading these two posts I’ve an idea percolating for how I can focus or channel that discomfort back into practice. (Plus, I love the photo of you and bebe doing side-by-side yoga. LOVE.)

  7. Pingback: On Children « Wild Parenting

  8. While I have taken community yoga classes I have never looked much into the philosophy behind it, nor have I explored the world of meditation. Though I knew I was missing something I don’t think I realized how much! I appreciate the language and the clarity these practices can bring. and as a previous commenter said some I was already striving for without even knowing 🙂

    • Thank you, Jessica. Yoga classes are (or can be) meditation in motion. The asanas, or postures, are another of the 8-limbs of yoga (along with the yamas & niyamas) Since you’ve taken the classes, you’ve probably experiences some moments during a posture when you are fully present in the moment-the mind is still. Bang! You’ve just experienced Yoga behind the yoga 🙂

  9. Wow, wow and wow again. I love the way you apply yogic philosophy to parenting and the ways in which you have expressed them here. I was nodding my head frantically when I read “Parenting has become my path to find and accept my true Self. There is nothing like parenting to really spotlight all of those uncomfortable parts of myself that I would like to remain hidden. It can also bring out the best in me as a parent. The trick is to completely accept all of it, love myself, and keep chugging along to break patterns and replace them with new ideas.” Amazing isn’t it? We really get to forge ahead a new way of being with ourselves and a model a new way forward for our children. It’s huge even in the small moments!

    I clicked on ALL the links for your book recommendations and added them to my wishlist for us. Thanks for such great suggestions, I’m inspired.


    • Namaste, Terri. It pleases me greatly to read your reaction. I feel that the sentence you pulled out is the heart of both parts 1 & 2. Thank you for seeing that.

      Please let me know what you think of any of the books you read. I’d love to hear of any you appreciate as well.

  10. Pingback: Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace - Child of the Nature Isle

  11. Pingback: Not Just Getting Through

  12. Pingback: Be a daisy | Old New Legacy

  13. Pingback: Long Term « Rosmarinus Officinalis


  15. So much of this resonates with me!

    Many are things I have pursued without naming, so it’s awesome to have those names and definitions (those are things that are helpful and important to me)…

    You’ve given such a wealth of wisdom in these two posts Zoie…a lot to process! I will be coming back to both for sure…thank you so much for sharing…

    • Thank you, Kelly. I appreciate you saying that these principles are things you also have pursued. One thing I didn’t mention is that these “sutras,” which are translated as aphorisms or “threads,” were handed down in oral tradition. I find them to be so powerful because each thread is short enough to be used as a mantra to help focus on what you want to cultivate. They’re so pregnant with meaning that they give lots of juice for self-exploration and meditation. I have used them for thought-stopping when I had post partum depression or when I feel frustrated or overwhelmed with my day. Or last night when I didn’t want to go to a challenging yoga class. I chanted “abhiyasa, abhiyasa” in my head to get me there. Abhiyasa means “tireless dedication to practice” or “the practice is all that matters, not the outcome.”

      • That is so cool. 🙂 Honestly – I think I could find a lot of value in something like that…I am awfully good at talking myself out of things I don’t want to do. :p Thank you!

  16. I love how simple each of the Niyamas are, and easily applicable they can be to any facet of life. What simple, yet universal concepts to put into practice! Thank you for sharing with us 🙂

    • Thank you for replying, Dionna. There’s so much wisdom in there. I think that’s why they’ve lasted so long and why these concepts seem to appear in many enduring ideas from every culture.

  17. Pingback: Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas | Natural Parents Network

  18. Pingback: Parenting Philosophy: Being Present | The Artful Mama

  19. Pingback: My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love

  20. I like the idea of “Santosha”. I love the idea of modelling contentment with what I have and also with my limitations. I never thought of being content with my own limitations before, but it really makes sense! Rather than being hard on myself for things I haven’t done, I can be at peace with myself and realize that each day I am doing my best, and that what I do is enough.

    • Thank you, Sheryl. What you say is very loving of yourself. I think many of us have a problem with giving compassion to ourselves. We think we need to be hard on ourselves all of the time or else we will become complacent. I find that if I can let in a little compassion, it’s easier to question myself gently rather than be critical of my limitations. On those days when my kids are challenging me and I feel overwhelmed, I often repeat what you are saying as a mantra “I am enough” etc. It really helps. Later, I can question how I can handle things differently, if needed.

  21. Pingback: Life with a challenging kid: hidden blessings | high needs attachment

  22. Pingback: A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect | Monkey Butt Junction

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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