For every person, yoga means something else, for one person it may be physical activity, for someone else maybe it is meditation, or maybe chanting, but definitely the word yoga which means “unity” is something more than a 60-minute class, it is something more than the ability to stand on your hands, twist and sweat.
So, what do I do if I want to go a little bit deeper into the subject of yoga? Where should I start? Or another question that they tend to ask me really often is what to read? I got the answer… Going some steps further (or it is more correct to say some steps back) we find the Yamas & the Niyamas which are the moral ethics and self-observations that are refereed at the text of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
These Yamas & Niyamas are the necessary ingredients of a yogis life that can help me become a better human and to live my life with a quieter mind. I won’t get into more details but straight to the action, because yoga matters if it is applied to our everyday life, on our routine, on our relationships…
In the following weeks, we will take a journey in philosophy and we will see how we can apply it to our life. We will analyze one by one the Yamas & the Niyamas and we will work on them by observing them and making even a small change, one little step at a time, this way the small steps will be added and will make a big one. It is a journey that I do every year at the start of the season with the students, and every year my relationship with these qualities is getting better. Accept the challenge and watch your life transform.
Αhimsa – Non-Violence
Nonviolence in thought, speech, and action, love for every living being, compassion, kindness, justice.
So Ahimsa is not only referring to the action but also on thought, it is referring to emotional violence, verbal violence (guilt, judgment, gossip) on everything that exists in nature, at all the living beings and not living elements of the planet, including ourselves. Ourselves is the most important aspect because everything starts with us.
Violence is born from fear, weakness, ignorance, and anxiety. The word ignorance means the ignorance of our true nature, to not know the perfection and wholeness of my existence, the inability to see the Divine that lives inside me. When I know this Truth I don’t compare myself with others, there is no competition because I know the Truth, that I am whole. This knowledge results in experiencing equanimity.
In our times’ violence is everywhere, on food, at the clothes that we buy, on our love relationships or at our relationships in general. Yes, this is true, have you ever thought how the food that you eat comes to your plate? or all this food that you buy but you don’t really need it? you also maybe throw it away sometimes. Or the perfect cheap t-shirt you bought from the well-known store chain, have you ever thought that in the order you have all these goodies some small children work in terms of slavery. Isn’t this an act of violence? and you participate in it. Or at your love life how many times you act from your ego and not from your heart?
Unfortunately, violence is at the system, in most advertisements that are trying to convince you that you are not good enough so you have to buy their product, we grow up under these terms and it is really hard to get away from this circle, we are entering a race that never ends acting with violence first to ourselves.
Violence is everywhere in the thoughts we have about ourselves, on fast food, in minimal sleep, at the never-ending stress, in the compromised relationships and all these just to fit in the system and to be accepted. From who? Finally, we end up suffering from panic attacks, insomnia, anorexia, autoimmune, etc. And for what?
You can change that, one step at a time, it is not easy to step out of your habits, your comfort zone, the way you grew up, but it can happen!
Below you will find some exercises, some things that you can observe making and this way you will make a small step, a step so you can escape from this meaningless circle, entering a path with destination love and compassion, the qualities that already exist inside you and wait patiently for you to discover them:
- Observe the thoughts you do for yourself, how much do you criticize? for example, I am not pretty, I am fat, I have a big nose, I can’t do that, etc. or how much you compare yourself with others.
- Observe the violence you put your organism into through your diet, the lack of physical exercise or too much physical exercise, smoking, alcohol.
- Observe how much violence you let others do to you if you set your limits and protect yourself.
- Observe your relationship with the market, do you really need everything you buy? or do you shop things you don’t use? Take exactly what you need, the planet and the goodies that it gives to us are not endless, let’s leave something behind for the next generations, what do you think?
- Observe your relationship with nature, for example, if you throw rubbish outside of bins, or if you use too much plastic, do you recycle it? Make a change, use the reusable mugs for your coffee or tea instead of plastic. If you have lost your connection with nature schedule a weekly walk on the mountain or at the sea, it will help you reconnect and respect her.
- At my yoga practice, I focus on the breath, does it become choppy & fast or how much tension does it hide, how much do I push myself beyond my limits? What thoughts do I make if I can’t do a certain pose, how often I injure myself?
- Don’t beat yourself up in practice, embrace your body, don’t try to fit into someone else’s body, the perfect yoga body is the one that you already have.
- The next time you will step on your mat and every time you do your practice before you start to place your palms in front of your heart center and give the promise to yourself that you will act from there, building your relationship with love.
Ahimsa is the most important of the Yamas & the Niyamas and if you can understand it fully you don’t need the rest, that’s why it is the first in the list. Embrace it and feel the results. Devote yourself to this quality and you will live the yogis’ life, don’t let anyone tell you how just follow your heart. The most important responsibility that I have in my life is to take care of and protect myself, to keep myself healthy physically and psychologically. By applying Ahimsa first to myself and then to others will help me live with a calmer mind and a heart filled with love. Let your actions speak for you and make the world a better place. Isn’t this what we all look for? What are you waiting for?
Have a good practice! Quote of the week: Do no harm but take no shit.