Ahimsa

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imagesOne of the main concepts that guides a yogic lifestyle is Ahimsa. Literally translated it means non-harming or non-violence. It is the first of the yamas in patanjali’s eight limb path(yoga sutras). As you begin to practice yoga, you may hear this word used in class. It is mentioned a lot because it is an important piece of the practice. As yogi’s in training  we strive to be better people, and non-harming is a big piece of that.  It takes courage  and strength of will to honestly practice ahimsa. It is a quality of strong and loving individuals that we admire, like Ghandi or Martin Luther King.  The idea is to control your emotions and learn to think of others first, becoming a more selfless person. A lot of yoga articles and teachers, including myself, will also define it as being non-harming to your self. For example, practice ahimsa by being gentle with your body in asana practice.  It can help remind us that yoga is not a competition, and it is best to listen to your body and be gentle. Being kind to ourselves is a good practice, but really ahimsa is about other living beings. Practicing the a “golden rule” philosophy and being kind to all people,not just our loved ones, and beyond that all living beings. A lot of yogis site this as a reason to become a vegetarian or vegan. Of course this is a serious life changing choice so it is up to the individual. By no means do you have to be a vegan to practice yoga.  In fact this a a relatively new concept in yoga. We live in a time when the food industry can be violent and under regulated. I think it is a good practice in ahimsa and satya (honesty) to really examine where your food comes from. In this way, beginning to become aware of what you eat and how it effects you, and the world around you.  You can practice what is known as conscious eating, and get to know your food.  The main idea is to be a loving and kind person. When you practice ahimsa you spread love and joy. Helping others feel better can help you feel better to. Even something as simple as a smile can change a persons day. You don’t have to take my word for it. Get out there and give it a try. Help someone you don’t know, smile at a stranger, spread kindness and see what happens.

Love and Light

Robin

 

“Ahimsa is not mere negative non-injury. It is positive, cosmic love. It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love. Ahimsa is true sacrifice. Ahimsa is forgiveness. Ahimsa is Sakti (power). Ahimsa is true strength.”   -Sri Swami Sivananda

 

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”    -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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