Are you tending to your garden of ahimsa?
For the next 21 days, myself and 12 other students will come together at my local yoga studio every morning to dive deep, practice self-enquiry and dissolve patterns and habits that no longer serve us.
Day number one and we are looking at ahimsa. This is the very first quality to foster on the 8 limbed yoga path to Samadhi or self-enlightenment.
Himsa means harm. When we place an ‘a’ in the front of the word, it changes the meaning to non-harm. Ahimsa is the very basis from which all of the rest of yoga comes from. It’s like the fertile soil from which everything else grows. If we are not practicing ahimsa, we are not practicing yoga.
We first learn about ahimsa on our yoga mat as we move through the different asanas. If we are truly embracing ahimsa, there should never be any injury from yoga. We breathe, we move, fully present with the feelings and sensations that the body is telling us – coming slowly out of any posture that doesn’t feel right or is causing any pain. This is ahimsa – non harm to the Self.
From the yoga mat out into the world, we discover first and foremost, himsa - where are we harming ourselves and where are we harming others? It can be a really eye-opening practice.
Himsa to ourself
Drinking too much coffee/alcohol
Sitting in a chair all the time that is not very comfortable
Negative inner critic…..I’m an idiot, look at my fat stomach, I’m hopeless
Bingeing on Neflix and going to bed too late
Himsa to others (including plants, animals and the Earth)
Snapping at your kids/fellow co-workers
Talking over the top of people
I love to substitute the word ahimsa for kindness. Kindness is not only the foundation of yoga, but it is also the foundation for living a wholesome life. Being more kind to ourselves, our families, our friends, our co-workers, our communities, our animals, and our Earth.
Take a moment to reflect today where you are practicing harm to yourself and harm to others. It’s not something we like to admit to, but it’s important to have this awareness. The smallest himsa can propagate enormous suffering. Through awareness of this we can slowly begin to change.
To decide to be more kind – kinder to ourselves and kinder to everyone else.
Are you ready to tend to your garden of ahimsa?