This month I have dedicated most of my classes to exploring Ahimsa – Non Violence.
In Yoga Sutras by Patanjali he guides us through different elements or ways to live a yogic life – he called it 8 Limbs Of Yoga, and surprisingly for some, the physical asana practice doesn’t come first on that list.
Patanjali started with Yamas and Niyamas – a yogic code of conduct, ethical and moral guidelines on how we should live our lives to achieve the true yogic strength, power, and transformation, on and off the mat.
Ahimsa – the first of 5 yamas (and the most important one) is often translated as non-violence or non-harm.
Do no harm. It is in fact the most important practice of yoga and everything else stems from it.
It guides our attention to more mindful choices in our life – looking at our actions, words and thoughts – from our ways of interacting with others, the way we speak to ourselves internally, the way we treat our environment etc. And while we don’t tend to think of ourselves as violent, causing harm doesn’t end at physical offences…
Do you remember the last time you were stuck in traffic? Or driving behind someone who most likely got their licence by pure luck? Or when you were trying some clothes on and they didn’t fit properly – what words did you use in your thought looking at your own reflection in the mirror? Think about all those choices and how easy it is to fall into negative behaviour patterns.
And while we cannot eliminate all harm from the world (life is rarely black and white, sometimes we need to chose between two evils), Ahimsa teaches us to consider the impact of our actions, words and thoughts and chose the way that is causing the least amount of harm and suffering.
This month I encourage my students to be kinder to themselves and others. To cause less harm and create more compassion. To practice Ahimsa as they would a yoga pose or a transition. It may not work out every time you try, but it doesn’t stop you to try it again.