The Yamas are the five rules of restrictions for a harmonious life in society. These are the moral, ethical and societal guidelines for the practicing yogi. These guidelines are expressed in the positive and are descriptions of how one would behave when truly immersed in the union of yoga.
Although in today’s age, we may not be striving for “perfection”, the Yamas are there to guide us to lead a conscious, honest, kind and ethical life.
Patanjali (the great sage who modelled the Eight Limbs of Yoga) states that the Yamas should be practiced on all levels – actions, words and thoughts. If all three of these are in sync, this is where we begin to shine.
THE FIVE YAMAS
AHIMSA – Non-violence (towards the self and others)
SATYA – Truthfulness (to live and speak our truth at all times)
ASTEYA – Non-stealing (not taking what is not freely given) fair bit can be said of each of the Yamas, so this week, I will teach you about the first Yama, and it is called “Ahimsa”.
BRAHMACHARYA – Abstinence (to live without excess)
APARIGRAHA – Non-coveting (to let go of all that we do not need)
Today, let'[s talk about about Ahimsa.
Non-violence can be defined by honest compassion and true love. This can be achieved by fully embracing love and allowing ourselves to view ourselves, the world and others with an open mind and a loving heart.
Well that sounds easy enough, surely? Well, at first practicing compassion is difficult, frustrating and not much fun. But the key to success is to have compassion or oneself for not having compassion – whilst, of course, trying to smile at this contradiction along the way.
To understand how we can manifest Ahimsa into our daily lives, we need to understand how our subtle daily actions may contain elements of violence. This usually starts with the thoughts or feelings we have towards ourselves; namely negativity, judgement, disappointment, criticism, guilt and shame. If you can’t think compassionately towards yourself or towards someone else then this is an act of violence, as you are actively pushing love away. The same goes for expecting too much from yourself or others, expecting the world to act in a way that suits your needs or acting in fear. These create a negative environment and take us that step further away from finding inner peace. Once we find inner peace, we direct this towards others.
Keeping this in mind, see if you can find ways to incorporate Ahimsa into your daily activities. Here are some examples:
- When you are in your asana (yoga posture) practice, check in and see if you are being hard on yourself for falling out of a pose, or taking a break in child’s pose because you are tired. Notice the quality of your thoughts and see I you can turn them around and swap the inner narrative for one of compassion.
- Move with intention. Instead of feeling the stress of any limitations of your body, recognise them and then send love to yourself.
- Eat less meat. This is a way to show compassion towards the animals with which we share this planet. But remember, whatever diet you choose, (and the choice is always one that is yours), be compassionate with yourself.
- Be kind to your physical body. Next time you look in the mirror, or look at whatever version of a person you deem as “perfect” on that Instagram post, resulting in a negative critique towards your own body, turn it around with thoughts of compassion. Be thankful for the able, unique and beautiful body that you have.
Peace, love & light.