The Yamas: Ahimsa by Lena Schmidt

Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga > Yoga > The Yamas: Ahimsa by Lena Schmidt

The yogic journey, as defined by Patanjali (the ancient sage said to have authored the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text of yoga), is an eight-fold path. The eight limbs act as guidelines for how to live a healthy and meaningful life, tuned into ones own purpose and spiritual nature. The eight limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Over the next few weeks we’ll be diving deeper into each of the 8 Limbs here in this blog and in the Thursday, 9:00am, Yoga 1 class at the North Park studio. Enjoy your journey!

The first limb of the eight-fold path is the Yamas, or attitudes and behaviors towards others. The Yamas are basically the moral “don’ts.” The 5 Yamas are Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacarya, and Aparigraha. The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa. Ahimsa is non-violence or non-harming.

We can practice Ahimsa in yoga by:
*Being kind to our bodies (use props! take variations! rest when needed!)
*Noticing and catching self-criticism
*Noticing and catching judgment and negative thoughts about others
*Going out of our way to make others feel comfortable and safe (we were all new to yoga once ☺)

We can practice Ahimsa in life by:
*not harming others (no hitting, pushing, kicking, etc etc…remember what you learned in kindergarten?)
*being mindful of how your words, actions, and energy affect others
*not harming plants
*this is where the idea of vegetarianism intersects with yoga: do you have to be vegetarian or vegan to be a conscious yogi? You decide!

Practice tips:
Yoga teacher and positive psychology life-coach Karson McGinley explains that violence in all forms essentially comes from fear, imbalance, and a lack of compassion. By focusing on courage, balance, and compassion, we invite Ahimsa into our consciousness and resonate more deeply with love on all levels. Also, Dr. Martin Luther King is a standout example of a life led by Ahimsa. You can read more about Dr. Kings 6 Principles of Non-Violence here: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy#sub2

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