Ahimsa - Non Violence
We often hear yogis say things such as “this practice has changed my life” or “yoga is a lifestyle” or “yoga can heal you”.
The word Yoga has a different meaning for everyone. Some may see it as a physical practice and only connect with the physical benefits, some may see it as much more.
Many yogis start with asana (the physical practice) which is fine. There is no right or wrong way to be introduced to yoga. Whatever guides you here is right where you are meant to start. As you move through this journey you are going to be introduced to much more than what you initially had anticipated.
Asana (physical practice) is just one of the eight limbs in yoga. The first limb being the Yamas. There are five Yamas, in this post I will be focusing on Ahimsa (non violence) which some may believe is the most important.
Today there seems to be a lack of Ahimsa. When I say non violence, I am not just talking about non violence to one another. It is for all aspects of life, non violence towards yourself (yes, that includes the negative thoughts about yourself), others, animals, and the universe.
You may be the sweetest, loving, and healthiest person in the world, but what about your thoughts? Our thoughts are so powerful. Just our thoughts alone can have an impact on something as obvious as our attitude all the way to depleting our immune system. “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all.” I think we have all heard that once or twice, but have we ever been told that goes for ourselves as well. Why are we speaking to ourselves the way we would never speak to someone else?
Ahimsa in Asana; we are often most harmful to ourselves. Do you find yourself comparing your yoga practice to others? “Why am I not that flexible?” “My balance sucks.” “I will never be able to do that pose.” Yoga is not about how flexible you are, or if you can do inversions or arm balances. Yoga is about releasing all judgement and connecting the body with the breath. Being present in your practice and noticing what comes up in the process.
It is not easy, we are all human. But from my experience yoga has made me more aware of my impact on myself, others, the universe. This is something that is in the back of my mind everyday. Some days it is not easy, I am far from perfect. I take a few deep breaths before reacting, and think is what I am about to do going to cause harm to someone or something. Sounds simple, but in the moment it is something that often is surpassed and then we end up reacting in a way we later will wish we had not.
With everything that is out of our control in this world, one thing that we can control is our response, or reaction to things out of our control. I encourage more of us to act with Ahimsa in mind. We are all connected, be more aware of the effects you have on yourself, and others. Be kind to yourself, others, animals, and the universe. After all that is what we can control.