Back to those Yamas that we were talking about a couple of days ago. Yamas are the 5 restraints or ‘don’ts’ of personal action. They are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and, aparigraha. I’ll start with Ahimsa today and work my way forward. I’m a list girl and like working in a linear, left brainy fashion.
Ahimsa translates as non-violence. This is meant to include all thought and action towards both ourselves and others. It’s quite a vast concept, encompassing judgement, pushing your way through your yoga practice, through to the preservation of life and vegetarianism. I think that to start to practice anything new we can start small. I like to work with the physical first because it is tangible and then move into the more esoteric dimension.
To practice ahimsa while we are doing yoga requires a few things. First it requires compassion. To be moving through the body without judgement. This in itself is very challenging and requires a one breath at a time dedication. Second, to practice ahimsa requires that we practice with integrity. To tie into what we were talking about yesterday, when we practice with integrity, moving where the body can go willingly without disregard for injury, stasis, etc., we cannot injure or harm ourselves. When we move through the body, steeping our asana with ahimsa we need to stay present, focussed, aware and dedicated to integrity and staying physically and emotionally integrated.
We also need to take our yoga off the mat. The asana provides us with this workstation to explore, assess and integrate but the real challenge is to get out there and walk your talk. We all struggle with this. I can find myself out of integrity LOTS and its something I’m really working on. I’m really trying to live my yoga.
For me my current practice of Ahimsa isn’t just taking care of my shoulder, although it’s a great place to start. I am trying to really watch what I say and practice non-violent speech. I am notorious for swearing, saying what’s on my mind before I think and releasing my pent-up anger through language so my current commitment to ahimsa is to practice kindness in my body and practice kindness through my language. I often forget that what I say is powerful (this goes for all of us) and affects those around me.
Consider in your own life how you come out of integrity. It can be with a certain person, in a certain place or even just on a certain day. Can you first become conscious, fearlessly examining yourself and then gently encourage yourself to change. Don’t become judgemental if you make a mistake or come out of integrity, simply start creating an awareness. What I find so inspiring to consider is that if we all were a little less violent with thoughts…how could that change our present reality?