Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas and Niyamas and it serves as the foundation to the other Yamas and Niyamas. In Deborah Adele's book "The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice" she explains how Ahimsa guides us to step lightly, do no harm, and to honor the relationship we have with the earth, with each other, and with ourselves.
While overt violence may be easier to see and understand when it is occurring, violence occurs in many more subtle ways. If we feel fearful, powerless, rushed, out of balance, or self-anger we are more likely to act out.
The practice of Ahimsa begins with the practice of bringing courage, balance, self-love, and compassion into our lives. Here are some ideas to bring non-violence into your yoga practice:
1. Courage: Try out a pose this week that pushes your comfort zone. It can be a pose that you fear such as crow pose, half moon, or even headstand!
2. Balance: In class we sometimes speak about Sthira and Sukha, or effort and ease. While in a pose such as bridge pose it can be difficult to balance the effort of lifting your hips to the ceiling while finding ease in your neck and jaw. Try to find a balance between effort and ease during your next yoga flow.
3. Self-love: "Our inability to love and accept all the pieces of ourselves creates ripples - tiny acts of violence - that have huge and lasting impacts on others." Deborah Adele. Take time to love yourself for showing up on your mat and doing the work.
4. Compassion: By getting out of our head and grounding in our body we learn compassion. Listen to your body and use this as a guide to how far you push in each pose this week.
Image obtained from beYogi