To practise yamas and niyamas, remove those blocks that stop you from following satya, ahimsa, asteya, aparigraha and brahmacharya. Don't think of satya, don't think of ahimsa, instead think of the block which stops you from satya and ahimsa. Which vritti is it? Which mental state it is? Then work on that block. If you are able to work on the block, then the result will be satya and ahimsa. Don't try to enhance or increase the yama or niyama, for nobody can. You have to go from the opposite side, you don't focus on satya, ahimsa, or brahmacharya, instead you focus on those blocks which stop you from becoming that.
Self–study is an integral part of that process and there are common factors. Himsa, violence, is due to what? It is due to aggression. So the sadhana capsule has to be for aggression, not for ahimsa. If you are able to reduce aggression, then ahimsa will be the result. Asteya, non-stealing, what is the cause of stealing? Lobha, greed. Therefore, work on your greed, then asteya will be automatic. You have to think in that manner. Not how to enhance the understanding of satya, because even God has not been able to do that. How can we become more ahimsa? You have to think of the opposite in order to enhance the positive.
Don't just go off on the philosophical debate of what is satya, and why people are not satya, not a philosophical debate on ahimsa, stating that Buddha said this, Mahavir said that, Swami Sivananda and Swami Satyananda said this, no. The impediment to ahimsa is aggression. The impediment to satya is falseness, false self-esteem, hiding from your own weaknesses and limitations. In that manner you will have to think. Asteya is because of greed, brahmacharya is because of bhoga, the sangraha vritti is aparigraha. If you work from that perspective, you remove the blocks, and the road is clear.
The impediments have to be removed. There is no use thinking of a high lofty ideal if the impediments continue to be there. If they are there, then no matter what you desire, it will never be attained. Always work on the opposite to come to the desired and you will get a clear flowof yamas. That is what Swami Sivananda mentions in his poem Obstacles to Sadhana. He is one of the only ones in the whole world who said, 'Watch out for this pitfall and this pitfall and this pitfall. These are the barriers which won't allow you to succeed.' He is clear on those things which are associated with bringing the positive yama into life.
Sri Swamiji gave a lecture in 1979 in England on 'Yama, Niyama and Hatha Yoga.'
3 June 2018, Ganga Darshan, Munger