What is Ahimsa? Ahimsa is one of yoga’s ethical guidelines that are part of the first two limbs of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. These are ethical guidelines that guide us in our lives as yogis. There are yamas – things not to do, or restraints, and there are nyamas, or things to do, or observances. Both of these together create a moral code of conduct for yogis, both on and off the mat.
Ahimsa is one of the five yamas. Yamas are self-regulating behaviors that involve our interactions with other people or the world at large. It is the practice of nonviolence. It is seeking to cause no intentional harm in our actions or thoughts to ourselves, other beings, or the Earth. Here are some ways we can practice Ahimsa in our own yoga practice and in our daily lives:
- Love yourself! Love yourself wholly and completely. Try to avoid being harsh or critical of yourself – both on and off the mat. We all are beautiful and have our own unique gifts. As they say, comparison to others is the killer of joy. Be mindful of negative thoughts that can lead to self-harm or judgment about yourself.
- Be compassionate. Be compassionate to yourself and other beings. This means causing no harm to not just other fellow humans, but all living beings. Take a moment each day to perform an act of kindness to yourself or other beings.
- Don’t make judgments of others. All of us are on our own paths. We are all different and are on our own journey. It is important to be informed before passing judgment onto someone else. Be mindful of where judgments you may have about others stems from. Try to empathize with others. We do not know what it is like to fill another’s shoes.
- Try to eliminate negativity and toxicity from your life if at all possible.
- BE KIND. Do one thing for someone or another being each day. Volunteer for an organization. Listen to someone. Compliment someone. Pet your dog and take him/her for a long walk. Spend time with someone who needs someone to talk to or needs companionship. Make a new friend at Ganesha’s!
At Ganesha’s, we strive to put the eight limbs of yoga into practice. You can practice asanas and postures, but lose sight of what yoga truly means. The practice of the yamas and nyamas is essential to be a whole and authentic yogi both on and off the mat!
How do you practice Ahimsa? Please leave a comment below! We would love to hear from you!