Class Theme: Ahimsa
In this week’s Simply Yoga practice with Ash in the studio, we will be focusing on the yoga philosophy of Ahimsa. Ahimsa comes from the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, an ethical guide on living your true life.
What does Ahimsa mean?
“Ahmisa is a Sanskrit word meaning "non-violence." The term is derived from the root word himsa, meaning "to cause pain," and the prefix, a,that means "not."
In a broader sense, ahimsa means "universal love and compassion." Practice of ahimsa involves refraining from causing physical and psychological pain to any living being. Ahimsa is forgiveness, divine love and sacrifice. Ahmisa, in short, is being non-violent in thought and action, in body and soul.” Yogapedia.com
Not only is Ahimsa focused on non-violence towards others, it is also focused on non-violence towards yourself. This could be in the negative and judgemental patterns of thought or words to oneself to literally abusing your own mind and body with alcohol or drugs.
Mindful of Ahimsa
“Ahimsa isn’t simply the practice of refraining from violent words or actions, it’s also about abstaining from violent thoughts. Ahimsa is the total and complete absence of violence from one’s mind, body, and spirit. It’s not only about evading harmful deeds, but about lacking the capacity to engage in harmful thoughts whatsoever.” MindBodyGreen.com
Abstaining from violent thoughts can seem perplexing for some of us as we barely understand where thoughts come from in the first place. This is where you take your practice off the mat and into everyday life. Be conscious of the information/images/video/content you put into your brain. In this age of information and entertainment we can be overwhelmed with violence in varying degrees. If we constantly watch horror films or action films, for example, we will become desensitised to violence in these films. Over time, as these images and video sit in our subconscious we may not notice that our thoughts have increased in violent themes. Be mindful of what you feed your brain.
How to incorporate Ahimsa into daily life?
Focus on your diet, if you aren’t feeding your mind and body the nutrients they need to function efficiently on a day-to-day basis then you are consciously practicing violence towards yourself as you sabotage your long term mental and physical health.
Notice your judgmental thoughts of others and yourself. We can be very harsh on ourself and of other people. Notice thoughts when they pop up, don’t engage with these judgemental thoughts and allow them to drift off as easily as they popped into your mind. No need to create more thinking about why or where they are coming from, let them be.
Choose to be compassionate and kind to others. If you practice kindness to strangers or people in your life then you will have a positive impact on the people you come into contact with, the world will be a better place!
Care for Mother Earth and your environment. Put your litter in the bin, recycle where you can, try to consume less plastics, try to consume less material possessions, use the bike or your legs to walk instead of the car. We can help protect the planet for our future generations if we all make small steps. This is ultimately practicing Ahimsa as you are practicing non-violence to Mother Earth, helping create a more natural and vibrant environment.
I have given a very brief overview of Ahimsa here, there are some great posts if you Google ‘Ahimsa’. If you’re interested in reading more into the philosophy side of yoga I would recommend seeking out ‘Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’