Whatever the reason that you come to practice yoga may be, you most likely know that there is more to the practice than just the physical part. If you think of yoga as a tree, our physical practice, or asana, is just one of the tree’s many limbs. There are seven other limbs, one of which teaches us the yamas. The yamas are restraints or guidelines that help us to lead a kind, compassionate, healthy and happy life. One of these yamas is Ahimsa, or non-violence. While being non-violent may seem straightforward - do not injure others, it is really a complex concept that lays the foundation for all of the other limbs and leaves of your tree. Ahimsa asks us to be kind to ourselves, others, and the Earth that we live on. When we are kind to ourselves, we will be kind to others. When we consider the literal translation of ahimsa, non-harm, we can broaden this guiding principle to include not only avoidance of physical violence but also hurtful thoughts and words. How would you feel if every thought you had was broadcasted for everyone around you to hear? Is the dialogue you have with yourself (in yoga and in life) a kind one? How does your inner voice change when you are confronted with something scary, new, challenging or upsetting? Can you break down these thought patterns to understand why you’re saying and thinking these harmful things? Counter each harmful idea with a positive and constructive idea.
Try this meditation on ahimsa using #mantra: Find a comfortable seat. Take some centering breaths. Observe your thoughts. Take a moment to cultivate kindness in your thoughts, in your words, and in your actions. Commit to being kind to not only others, but also yourself. Either aloud or in your mind, repeat the mantra Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (pronounced: Lo-CAH samah-STAH soo-KEY-no bahv-ahn-to). These words mean “May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” Repeat the mantra several times keeping in mind your intention of ahimsa. You can also try using one of the many beautiful kirtans (chanting songs) on YouTube or Spotify/iTunes and just singing along or listening intently. Just type in the name of the mantra and get groovin!
We love this version: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu on YouTube