YOGA OFF THE MAT | PRACTICING AHIMSA: The theme of Yoga Off the Mat this month is AHIMSA. Ahimsa is the first yama (moral, ethical, and societal guideline) of Patanjali's eight-fold path of yoga. It is the practice of non-violence (non-harming) which includes physical, mental, and emotional harming not only toward others but also to ourselves. I choose to use the word "harming" to replace the word "violence" in my definition to reinforce the idea that even small amounts of damage are still damage of some kind. Overextending yourself and depriving yourself of sleep, for example, is not often considered "violence" but it is still harmful to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Ahimsa is the practice of compassion, kindness, and gentleness. Sometimes it is easier to remember to be kind and gentle with others while we forget to offer ourselves that same gentle kindness. Setting an intention such as "I will help others so long as it does no harm to my own health and well-being" is a good place to begin practicing compassion toward oneself and developing self-love. It can become a mantra to anchor you into your practice. Asking yourself, "Does this resonate with what my body needs?" or "Will this cause me unnecessary stress?" can also help guide your practice of ahimsa off the mat.
I have chosen this image as a reminder to myself and others to practice ahimsa and kindness to EVERYONE. It can be challenging at times, but that's why it's called a practice. What's your theme and what are you collecting to encourage you to practice your yoga of life every day?