Let's start with the Yamas and take a look at Ahimsa

 Image by Photo by Chris Ensey

Image by Photo by Chris Ensey

Ancient lessons in the form of repeated chants or mantras were passed from guru to student over thousands of years and sometime between 5000BC and 300AD, these lessons or sutras (which means thread) were gathered and documented by Patanjali and were continued to be studied by yogis throughout history and to present time. The first of the Eight Limbs for achieving yoga is a collection of yamas; five observances for our dealings with others and with ourselves.

Ahimsa is translated as non-violence and it is expected that if you’re reading a blog or a website about yoga, you’re going to be a nice person; not generally the type who spends their weekends planning violent axe-wielding attacks, however, in it’s broadest sense the word means to be kind. That’s it. Be kind. Kind in thoughts, kind in actions, kind in our dealings with other people, and there you have it.

Our human minds have the habit of forming opinions or judgments and unfortunately, these aren’t always pure. A colleague might have been promoted; 'hang on, I work just as hard as they do, why haven’t I been promoted? They’re always two minutes late getting to their work station, spend too long at the coffee machine, they are not deserving of this fancy new job'. An acquaintance on our social media friend list has just posted photographs of a night out in the city having a right jolly good time with other people we know; 'oh my goodness, did she really wear that? I’m certain that colour doesn’t do the appearance of the size of her thighs any favours'. Crude examples I know, but do they ring any bells? (I should point out here that I wasn’t thinking of anybody at all when I wrote those examples. Just in cases!) If only for a fleeting minute, our ego has been far from rejoicing the good news with our friend or colleague. If we look a little deeper into ourselves we might find that our not-so-nice responses might have come from another place; 'why wasn’t I invited on the night out? I feel left out’, ‘I work really hard and I’m feeling a bit under appreciated’.

If we can delve into why we had those negative responses, we should be able to figure out what kindnesses we need to be allowing ourselves and so closer to home, we might also look at ourselves with ahimsa in mind. How many times has the little voice in our head beaten us up with unkind thoughts? We might be going out for an evening, having a look in the mirror and deciding that no, you won’t be wearing this dress, it makes your earlobes look too fat. You might have been out for a run and told yourself off because you could have actually gone faster like you did last week. In these modern times of social media and photograph sharing, it’s all too easy to imagine that everyone else has the perfect life whereas your own is a constant struggle with trying to find a work and home life balance, squabbling children, trying desperately to get everything done and still be immaculately dressed, drive a shiny car, have a spotless house and an amazingly effective nutrition and fitness routine? How can we be nice to friends, family and strangers if we can’t even be kind to ourselves?

Of course, the artfully posed splashes of other people’s lives on the social media websites really are just that. We show the world the very best versions of ourselves. We are all living our lives the best way we can, because really, who’s going to post pictures of their overflowing in-tray? Ok, there might be some that do, but you get the gist.

Having a regular yoga practice really can help gain just a little bit of perspective; being still, focusing on your breath, being present here and now. I promise you, your body will thank you for it, and I’m sure to go into the anatomical & physiological reasons for that at some point in my blog because it really is one of the most amazing things I’ve learned about over the last couple of years.

It’s so simple; breathe, notice your breath, notice your body, enjoy the moment. Being kind to yourself and to others. Ahimsa.

Love & light to you x

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