There is so much in the news about the harm experienced in our world these days and with one of the great pacifists, Thich Nhat Hanh passing on this week for some of us this has come even more to mind.
Gandhi was another great man who did all he could to spread peace in our world and he left his legacy with his followers and his grandson who speaks in this recording with Jonathon Jones about the violence – both active and passive – within all of us ..
The Eight Limbs of Yoga are the philosophy and ancient roots behind all yoga with the ultimate goal of cultivating a steady mind and sense of calm. These 8 limbs begin with the Yamas (how we relate to others) and Niyamas (how we take care of ourselves).
None of these tools or concepts are hard and fast rules – they are open to interpretation as we see fit and this may be different for us from day to day. The first Yama is Ahimsa – “non-harm” and this can be interpreted by the causing of no harm to ourselves or to any living being – with the yogic belief that as we are all sharing the same energy if we were to hurt another, we ultimately hurt ourselves …. What goes around, comes around. We can also observe this when we push ourselves too hard on our mats or think we are “not good enough” and thereby cause ourselves physical and mental harm. By integrating the practice of Ahimsa into our everyday life we can view this more subtly by noticing when our thoughts contain negative responses like disappointment, resentment, guilt or shame as in these thoughts we are subtly creating violence against ourselves or others. If you cannot forgive yourself or another for something they have done then even this can be viewed as violence, as it pushes love and kindness away and creates negativity and a wasted energy. Negative energy as well as creating a butterfly effect around the world also increases the cortisol levels in our bodies invoking the fight and flight response, and this too can cause harmful stress to our bodies and minds.
Observing ourselves and our thoughts with curiosity when we are on our yoga mat can be revealing – noticing objectively how our mind works, how we feel about our postures, the frustrations that we are not progressing quickly enough perhaps. Practicing Ahimsa moves us away from negativity towards positive thoughts about ourselves, helping us to have uplifting thoughts about our practice and ourselves no matter how strong or flexible we perceive our bodies to be. Give it a go… it really does begin to make a difference to how we feel about ourselves and others.
All my classes are currently online (hopefully they will be in person after half term) and listed on my website at this link – http://www.mindedyogawinchester.co.uk/general-yoga-classes/
Do let me know if you would like to come along as a “drop-in” at any time – everyone is welcome!