Ahimsa

door | Yoga

Ahimsa stands for “non-violence” or “absence of injury” in Sanskrit. It is the first of the yamas (self-restraints) in Yoga from Patanjali’s Sutras, in which you find the foundations of yoga (made up by the eight limbs of yoga). With it being the very first yama, it is the foundation of all the other yamas and actually of our whole practice because it is rooted in love – the interconnectedness of all beings and things – union – which is ultimately the meaning of yoga. You can consider ahimsa a universal observance ahimsa in which the point is to always have the intention to be mindful of doing no harm in words, actions or thought.

The no harm principle is found in other spiritual traditions. For example, it is found in the famous golden rule in the Old Testament (from the Bible): Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31). It is a fundamental virtue in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Moreover, there have been inspirational figures throughout history who promoted the principle of non-violence. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. with his leading peaceful American civil rights movement to counterfeit oppression, and Mahatma Gandhi, who said “nonviolence is our greatest walk of life.” Gandhi believed that the path of non-violence can lead us to Divine Truth. Among the great yogis in history, Swami Vivekananda particularly emphasized the value of honouring ahimsa.

For self-protection, sometimes aggression is necessary among creatures. When it comes to humans, they also sometimes bring violence (himsa). Suffering among people is often related to violence. Humans do not need to live like animals, humans can take care of each other (even some animals do this). It can be a big effort to move from animal tendencies o human ones, because selfishness is biologically deeply rooted within our nature. However, humans are divine. We have a great instrument: an intelligent mind with which we can consciously choose to not do harm, and to be loving instead. To honour ahimsa is one of humanity’s greatest duties (dharma).

Just like all the other yamas & niyamas, ahimsa is something that we can practice on and off the mat. Ahimsa begins with yourself (health, diet, thoughts), and it can be made simple, by starting off by setting an intention (sankalpa) to be loving in all thoughts, words, and actions throughout the day. Because these are the things that can cause harm when utilized in destructive ways. The Vedas even express the difference in ways of causing harm: kayaka (“of the hand,” referring to physical doings), vācaka (“expressive,” referring to words), and manasika (“of the mind,” referring to thoughts). Science comes in there where skeptics might doubt the power of thoughts. Negative thoughts create stress, which makes your body secrete cortisol, weakening your immune system. On the other hand, positive thoughts create happiness, and the secretion of dopamine – the feel-good hormone.

Ahimsa manifests in all the layers of your life: yourself, your relationships, your community, humanity and the planet There is an inner knowing (like in satyam – the second yama: truthfulness) that guides the observance of ahimsa. We know in our hearts when our intention is loving, and when it is not. Ahimsa and satyam go hand in hand. When we do not honour ahimsa we move away from truth. When we are aligned with truth, there is love and unity, there is a deeper relationship with ourselves and the world around us – harmonious relationships

OBSERVING AHIMSA IN DAILY LIFE
There are so many ways you can practice ahimsa. Ahimsa goes as far as you are willing to take it, there are no limits when it comes to how much you can love. Here is a list of 15 ways to observe ahimsa in daily life:

1. Read about ahimsa (in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and other yoga texts)

2. Don’t hurt yourself trying to push yourself into a posture when practicing yoga on the mat.

3. Do not force anything in your yoga practice, or in any other areas of your life.

4. Be mindful of your language – change ‘have to’s and ‘shoulds’ with ‘want to’s and ‘would like, do not gossip, compliment others more, mind your tone of voice, be honest but not intentionally offensive. Note the ways in which your self-talk is full of criticism. The simple act of becoming aware if it goes a long way.

5. Listen more (it’s a way of expressing love).

6.Be kind to your body (live a healthy life by eating a healthy diet, practicing mindful eating, getting regular sleep and exercise, take care of yourself on all levels!

7. Be sure to find a balance in your diet and lifestyle: on the one hand, we want to avoid harming others; however, if not consuming something presents a harm to yourself, then it is important to consider a balanced approach in which you can eat a healthy diet which provides you with the nutrients you need in accordance to your dosha/typology/specific health requirements while causing the least possible harm to other beings in the process – you can aim to find the middle way, for example by opting for vegan meals a few times a week if it is not good for your health to go on a full vegan diet). Nourish yourself!

8. Live consciously, practice awareness, recognize non-loving thoughts.

9. Respect Mother Earth and care for the ecosystem. Be mindful pf what you consume, the products you buy (fair trade and organic products can be expensive and difficult to afford if you are on a budget. You could consider making choices here: for example: opting to purchase some organic items, like eggs or diary. Instead of buying ALL your make-up and toiletries from an organic brand, you could be more frugal about using the products you have and treating yourself to one organic item next time you need to replace one that finished). Stay creative!

10. Be kind, everyone has challenges in their lives which you may not know of.

11. Resolve conflicts peacefully. Learn to control your anger, be aware of your emotions and learn how to manage and channel them

12. Be gentle, and patient with yourself as well as others. Honour the process.

13. Meditate (even if only 10 minutes a day), and connect to your inner wisdom

14. Practice forgiveness, hold no resentment.

15. Leave things / return things in a nicer state than you found them in or was given to you.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TO CHECK YOUR AHIMSA
X How can I be kinder to my body?
X What is the nature of my self-talk? Sometimes we talk to ourselves in ways we would never talk to our friends.
X How can I be kinder to others?
X How aware am I of kind of energy I send to others?
X Is the music I listen to positive and inspiring, or is it negative and hateful?
X What kind of TV shows and movies do I watch? Are they spiritually inspiring, or are they violent?
X How aware am I of the products I buy (are they fair-trade? Where are they produced?)
X In what ways do I create drama, and how can I replace this by creating peace instead?
X How can I make things better?
X How are your actions beneficial to the world, and not only yourself?
X What does it take for you to extend the love in your heart to all beings?
X How can I become a peaceful, calming energy to those around me?

A WORK IN PROGRESS
In conclusion, there are a few things to remember when it comes to observing ahimsa. First of all, it is a work in progress! Be kind to yourself, make it a lifetime project. Changing habits takes time, patience and perseverance. Remember also the power of intention.

It’s easy to practice ahimsa when things are going well. When things get hard, when life hits you with an unexpected slap in the face, when a stranger is rude to you in the supermarket, when a partner is unfaithful, when someone cuts you off in traffic – can you still remember ahimsa?

It is when things get challenging that the practice truly begins. Great growth can potentially happen in these moments when you choose to be aware of your actions and choose to respond to situations consciously instead of impulsively react. This means that when something “happens” that triggers a part of you, you take a few moments of awareness and observe your inner reactions and consider the ways in which you can act from your Higher Self and respond rather than react.

Ahimsa manifests in all the layers of your life: yourself, your relationships, your community, humanity and the planet. To practice ahimsa is to remove all violence from our mind, body, and spirit. It is all about compassion, love, acceptance, kindness, and having an open heart. Pay attention to the subtleties of how you can make it manifest in daily life! Ahimsa serves our spiritual awakening because it also helps us to identify with what we are. It is a path towards unconditional love. To observe ahimsa is to extend to others the love we have within our hearts Ultimately, it comes from the love in your heart – the love that you ARE.

Thank you for tuning in to our saktiisha bimonthly articles of inspiration. May the power of loving awareness always be with you!

Aldona

Subscribe

Saktiisha:

KvK-nummer: 59894288

BTW-nummer: NL196468024B02

ABN AMRO rek: NL19ABNA0424719665

Ahimsa

Ahimsa stands for “non-violence” or “absence of injury” in Sanskrit. It is the first of the yamas (self-restraints) in Yoga from Patanjali’s Sutras, in which you find the foundations of yoga (made up by the eight limbs of yoga). With it being the very first yama, it...

Embracing the Seasons Series – SUMMER JOY

There is something special about June 21st. This day marks the Summer solstice and is thereby the year’s longest day in Northern countries of the world. From a yogic point of view, the Summer solstice denotes the transition to dakshinayana (a Sanskrit term for the...

Yin Yoga

YIN YOGA There are many types of Yoga. The four main ones are: Jnana, Karma, Bhakti & Hatha Yoga. Many forms of yoga fall under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga. Yin Yoga is one of them, and this blog entry is dedicated to it. WHAT IS YIN YOGA? To understand, first of...

Tapas

Tapas is Sanskrit for austerity or discipline, and it is the third of Patanjali's Niyamas. The niyamas are moral codes that encourage positive behavior. Tapas is all about perseverance, and burning enthousiasm. When we look at the etymology of this Sanskrit term, it...

Shakti – Same Essence, Different Forms

Spiritual practice is a continuous discovery, a journey, a yearning for the Divine. This blog post is in the honour of Shakti who represents the Manifestation of Divine Perfection, there where Shiva represents Divine Consciousness. The woman and her mystery is a theme...

Embracing the Seasons Series – Spring: Welcoming Change

Dear Yoga Family, We have now transitioned through this year’s spring equinox, Spring is here! As nature yet again begins the cycle of renewal, growth and expansion, by the universal law of resonance, the energy within our very being does the same. In this season, we...

Maha Shiva Ratri

Namaste friends, Full of spiritual aspiration, I am excited to greet you once again, and share my eager anticipation for the upcoming yearly Maha Shiva Ratri, the great night of Shiva. Maha Shiva Ratri is traditionally celebrated on the night before the day of the New...

EMBRACING THE SEASONS SERIES – REFLECTION & RESTORATION IN THE WINTER

This is the first of a four-piece series we are introducing this year: Embracing the Seasons. In line with the current season in Europe at the time this post is written, we will begin with the winter season.

FEMALE MYSTICS

Hello dear ones! After some time of deep reflection and settling into this exciting 2020 (hope you all had an amazing transition into this year of vision!), I am happy to be back and blogging once again, this month presenting you with a post about a topic that has intrigued me for a few years, and now lies very close to my heart as I immerse myself deeper in the world of divine femininity: female mystics. My ever-growing fascination with the divine, the metaphysical forces underlying the dances of the universe, and all the ways in which I experience this throughout my life as a woman dancing through this earth plane fuels my interest in mysticism. There have been many male and female mystics throughout the course of history who each add special value to the practice of spiritual contemplation. In honour of the rise of the divine feminine, this post is dedicated to female mystics, while reorganizing the conversation in which spiritual and religious structures have typically been male-dominated and as a disclaimer: all while honouring all male mystics equally.

SATYAM – TRUTHFULNESS

Satyam is the second of the yamas in Yoga from Patanjali’s Sutras, and it stands for truthfulness in Sanskrit. This same principle is also found in other religious texts such as the Old Testament (from the Bible), Jewish Scriptures, and the Holy Quran. In the justice system, such as for example in court or when bearing witness to authorities like the police, it is considered a crime to falsify testimony, or simply said, lie.

When we break down the Sanskrit word satyam, we get sat = what is, true, real; and yam = restrain, or ya= “ness” or “coming from”

WP Feedback

Dive straight into the feedback!
Login below and you can start commenting using your own user instantly

Welcome to saktiisha!

Want to stay up to date on all our activities? Read more about our studio? Get inspired and motivated for yoga?

 

Sign up for our monthly newsletter. 

 

Saktiisha team

 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This