The Yamas & Niyamas are one of the foundational limbs of the
8-Limbs of Yoga. We can think of them as guidelines, disciplines or observances that can be used to guide us on our path of life. I also like the reference to them as "jewels", for they are like "rare gems of wisdom that give direction to a well-lived and joyful life." .
This is from The Yamas & Niyams by Deborah Adele. I love this book and I constantly go back to it as a reminder of this limb of Yoga and to seek new knowledge. Yes, even though I have read this book several times, each time I go back to it, I pick up something new! Just like using a Nia practice called RAW, I find a new learning or a deeper understanding of the learning. Ask me about RAW.
The 1st "jewel" of the Yamas is called Ahimsa, and is the foundation for all the other Yamas & Niyamas. Ahimsa basically means non-violence. Now, I can say I am a non-violent person; however, Ahimsa invites us to go deeper into what non-violence means. Do I practice self-love and self-care as a priority? Am I balanced...not only physically but in my relationships, work and life, and in all things I do each day. Am I compassionate and kind to myself? Do I judge myself? Ahimsa brings awareness to all my actions, words and thoughts and invites me to cultivate love, balance, compassion, kindness, non-judgement, generosity, respect and forgiveness for MYSELF first. As Deborah Adele states: "How we treat ourselves is in truth how we treat those around us.".
So ask yourself these same questions, and if you find you need more Ahimsa in your life, you can do it in very simple ways:
1. Each day wake up and set a positive affirmation for yourself. Let it be short, 1-3 words so you can easily remember it. It can be I am Peace, I am Balance, or anything that you want to cultivate. Bring your affirmation to your heart and mind, and call upon it during the day.
2. Practice non-judgement by letting go of comparisons of yourself to others in your daily life, in the mirror, on your yoga mat and on the dance floor.
3. Practice gratitude - CONSTANTLY. A daily practice of writing things down is great (I do it!); however, keep the words "thank you" close to your lips all day long. Thank you to the driver that let you in his/her lane; thank you when you find something you have been looking for (I thank St. Anthony!), thank you to the people who work in the grocery store, thank you to your mail person even if he/she is not present, thank you to the sky for our much needed rain, thank you to your feet for supporting you throughout the day, thank you for the parking space that magically appeared, thank you for being my friend, thank you for listening, thank you earth. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Get creative! The more you say it, even if you are faking it, the more it will be a part of your life.
4. Practice patience - with yourself in learning something new, when you are practicing balance poses in your Yoga or Nia class, or when doing your best to lose those last 10 pounds. Patience, spiced with self love please.
There are many ways to practice Ahimsa, even the food you eat or what you drink. Ask if this food or drink is nourishing your body and see what your body says to you.
I'd love to hear your special practice, so please share with me by sending me an email.
I will be playing with Ahimsa in my Yoga and Nia classes this week, so I hope you can join me!!
You are whole and complete! Be kind to yourself and it will auto-magically transcend out into the world. Image a world where everyone practiced Ahimsa!