A virtue is a trait or behavior that is associated with moral excellence and alignment with moral or ethical principles. In classical yoga, the five personal virtues (yamas) comprise one the eight limbs of yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The second limb of yoga is comprised of the rules-of-life virtues (niyamas).

In the Sandilya and Varaha Upanishads (among others), there are 10 codified yamas, some of which overlap those in the Sutras. The same is true of the niyamas, with Patanjali listing five in the Sutras and other texts listing up to 10 codified niyamas.

The yamas represent things the individual should avoid to be virtuous, such as not hurting others and not stealing. Although the yamas can be expressed in a positive manner, they are considered the “don’ts” of good living. The niyamas, on the other hand, represent things the individual should do (disciplines), such as being accepting of others and spending time in self-reflection.

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