The Eight Limbs of Yoga: An 18 week mini-course
WEEK ONE: AHIMSA
Embracing reverence and love for all.
– Sutra II.35
Just how nice can you be? You will never know unless you consciously make choices to support this exploration. The first two limbs of Yoga, Yama and Niyama, are foundational to all yogic thought. Yoga is a sophisticated system that extends far beyond doing yoga postures; it is literally a way of living.
Yoga is designed to bring you more and more awareness of not only your body but also your thoughts. The teachings are a practical step-by-step methodology that brings understanding to your experience, and more balance into your life. Under their guidance, the turbulence and drama that are often familiar begin to disappear. Gaining the skill to choose our attitude, to choose what we think, and to choose what we do, may be the grandest adventure we can take as a human being. And can make us a nicer person.
Yama is directly translated as abstinences. This tends to point to that which we should not do instead of espousing the characteristics supporting a refined and virtuous way of living. I prefer to include Nischala Devi’s translation for Yama – reflection of our true nature as a universal truth that we are inherently kind, truthful, honest, moderate, and spiritually abundant. It is the outer influences of life that cause us to believe and act otherwise. As Nischala states, “It is up to each of us in our hearts to decide which level of consciousness we want to abide in, in our spiritual life and in the world.”
The first Yama is Ahimsa and traditionally translates as non-harming or nonviolence creating the foundation for all the other guidelines. Ahimsa teaches us to act with kindness, compassion and consideration through not only our actions, but also our words and our thoughts. Positively stated, Ahimsa is Embracing reverence and love for all. The bible compassionately tells us to “love your neighbor as your self.” The key to this teaching is to learn to love and serve your self first.
Reflect on how the practice of Ahimsa presents itself in the course of your day. What words are flowing through your mind? Are they messages of kindness or judgment, compassion or comparison? Do your words reflect what‘s in your heart? Are you speaking in a way that acknowledges and affirms those around you? Or, do you hear yourself complaining, criticizing, gossiping or whining?
To support your practice of Ahimsa, I invite you to commit to a Complaint Free Contract, allowing your thoughts, words and actions to deliver kindness, love, and compassion toward yourself and others in equal measure.
Within my YogaMotion Life Enrichment course students are experiencing some big aha’s, mind-shifts, and social changes resulting from signing and implementing this contract. One of my students shares, “It’s amazing how changing words, tones, and intentions can effect a group of people and normal conversations through positive problem solving versus complaining.”
When we change our thoughts, we change our words. When we change our words we change our actions. Invite the practice of Ahimsa into your awareness and see for yourself how the teaching unfolds. Act on the messages from within and explore what balance looks like from this act of kindness towards yourself and others. Notice the effects on your practice, on your life, and your relationships.
“Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice”
Download your Complaint Free Contract here, and see for yourself just How Nice You Can Be!