In the April 5th blog, you might remember the brief mention of the “Yamas and Niyamas." In the "Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali," a collection of texts that were written by philosophers between the second century BCE and fifth century CE, outlining the 'Eight Limbs of Yoga' of which the Yamas are the first limb. Each limb describes a different aspect of the yoga practice.
The Yamas are primarily concerned with the world around us and our interaction with it. By considering these aspects in our daily practice - on and off - the yoga mat, all of our decisions and actions come from a more conscious and ‘higher’ place, enabling one to become more authentic towards oneself and others.
Ahimsa (non-violence), the first of the five Yamas can be interpreted as: not physically harming others, ourselves, or nature; not thinking negative thoughts about others or ourselves; and making sure that what we do and how we do it is done in harmony, rather than causing harm. Non-violence in how we react to events and others, in passing judgement, criticism, anger or irritation. It's suggested to practice compassion as a way to foster non-violence.
Having the compassion to accept things as they are with an open and loving heart. For example allowing oneself to let go of reacting to a situation in a conditional, judgmental, and negative way and replacing those thoughts or emotions with kindness, acceptance, and love. At first you may have to catch yourself doing it, pause, then try to practice having compassion (though it is sometimes difficult and frustrating). Try to have some compassion for yourself too, for not having compassion and smile at the contradiction.
The idea of Ahimsa is to do our best to be loving and compassionate human beings.
Here are 10 ideas on ways to practice Ashima:
1.) Do something nice for someone - random act of kindness
2.) Don't push yourself too hard, nor be lazy in your efforts/practice whatever it may be
3.) Shop local and help a friend or business
4.) Choose to let things go vs. harboring anger and/or resentment
5.) Get involved with a charity or organization to help others and spread peace
6.) Partake in a community or conservation clean-up
7.) Work to resolve a conflict peacefully
8.) Say a prayer or mediate for the greater good
9.) Care for Mother Earth (see a piece of garbage on the road, pick it up and throw it away)
10.) Be the reason someone smiles today
How about you? Did you consciously practice Ahimsa this today? What are your observations?