Ahimsa – or ‘non violence’ is the first of the Yamas, the moral guidelines that are part of the first limb of the eightfold path.
Non – violence is obvious, we don’t want to lead our lives being violent, or using violence as a way to get what we want.
As set out in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Ahimsa (2.35) states ‘As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility’
(ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)
For me, Ahimsa means something more than just the obvious not using violence to others but to not be violent to ourselves, and by this I mean during practice and in other areas of your life. On the mat I constantly remind people to practice Ahimsa, be patient, be kind, the body will achieve great things when you are kind to it. If your hips are tight, don’t attempt lotus! If your hamstrings are tight, don’t worry about reaching your big toe – use a strap! Yoga is not a race to achieve but a vehicle for the journey to understanding your true self…there is no time limit and you won’t reach samadhi when you achieve a certain difficult or challenging posture, so just chill and let it happen!
On a more subtle level using Ahimsa in daily life can mean just being kinder to yourself. We don’t have to be these multi-tasking super heroes that modern society wants us to believe we should be!
Go easy on yourself, as I have written before, quieten the ego and let life unfold naturally. No one, at the very least yourself, will benefit from burn out, so take it easy and practice ahimsa on yourself, I think we used to call this some ‘me’ time.
Go for a walk, read a book, meditate, and don’t use violence against yourself to push yourself to be anything other than who you are….close the door to your family/friends/children/work colleagues from time to time and allow yourself to jut RELAX
At the same time, what many of us believe to be the way to treat ourselves is to drink, eat or shop! So be mindful that those things can also harm us, and this in return is not practicing ahimsa, neither is pushing yourself to hard and denying yourself of food, drink, or material possessions, remember its all about balance.
What can you do to practice Ahimsa? I’d love for comments and dialogue with these Yama and Niyama posts so please, let’s start a conversation!
with love and light, always.