We’ll begin a series of blog posts about the Yamas and the Niyamas. These are the core principles of yoga philosophy, as outlined in Patanjali’s sutras. The Yamas are restraints, or things to not do, and the Niyamas are the observances, or things to do. I find that these work very nicely with my belief in Christ, and are simply good things to remember, to make our lives better. Patanjali leaves them open to interpretation, so I will share with you a few of my thoughts on each.
Our first Yama is Ahimsa, or non-violence. Automatically, we feel a little defensive, “well, I’m not violent!” the ego says quickly. But I believe there’s more to it than that. Let’s examine non-violence toward others. Now, obviously, we’re not going to go around and beat up our fellow human. But there are other ways that we harm each other. Do we judge each other harshly? Do we hold anger? Do we gossip? Hmm…
What about non-violence towards the earth & other living creatures. Let’s make it a part of our daily lives to do what we can to treat our earth kindly. It’s become so much easier to recycle, buy green products, shop locally, and reduce our waste. Let’s also consider how we treat animals. While you and I may be kind to each animal we encounter, how are other people treating them? When you purchase meat, how was the animal raised? How were its last moments? Was it treated with respect & honor? There are plenty of resources now to find out the conditions of the farms. One farm I recommend is The Cows are Out Dairy. You can find Amy on facebook for more information. She delivers at Mountain Yoga on Mondays, and has humanely-raised beef, pork, and eggs.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, is non-violence toward yourself. This is a huge can of worms! Let’s begin with physically. In your yoga practice, do you treat your body with the respect it deserves, or do you violently seek a deeper pose? Do you continually nourish your body with healthful, life-giving foods, or do you practice violence at the drive-through? Practice Ahimsa daily by honoring your body’s needs.
Now, the emotional & spiritual level. Do you judge your every thought, every action, every move with harsh criticism? This is one of the toughest things to overcome. Practice compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself as you would a good friend. Encourage yourself. You are beautifully & wonderfully made! Do you nurture your soul with quiet time, time in study, and time in prayer?
What other ways can we practice Ahimsa this week?