Taking yoga off the mat Part 4

It was only a while ago when I was learning about the philosophy of yoga. As a person, I love to philosophise as I'm Greek; in general, I don't do much research about philosophy, its origins and principles. So when I was studying the eight limbs of yoga, the eight steps on how to live a purposeful and meaningful life, I wasn't too impressed with the theory.


The first Yama, Ahimsa (non-violence), was stuck in my head though. I wondered if it meant free of physical or emotional violence and whether this was non-violence towards others or myself. Well, I can now tell you that Ahimsa represents all these things, it represents kindness in all aspects of life.


When you practice Ahimsa, you learn to cultivate compassion and understanding for others but also for yourself. Every day and almost every hour someone gets on my nerves, either on purpose or due to ignorance. In the past, my reaction was imminent: shouting, pacing up and down, smashing things and more... I shouldn't be proud of these moments yet I am proud of where I have come.


Just a couple of days ago, my car was in for a service and after three days and no communication from the garage, I found out that it wasn't ready because of someone's mistake which was followed by lack of communication. I was on the phone to the person in charge and got so annoyed, I hung up the phone. I then called my husband complaining about what had happened.


And what did he say? 'Ahimsa, remember?'! Shock to my system. Ahimsa baby, ahimsa. It brought me right back where I should be. It was my cue to reset my whole being back to practicing forgiveness and causing no harm to others but also to my nervous system.


How beautiful would the world be if we got rid of negative thoughts about ourselves and others too? And this includes showing kindness to nature and all its beings as well. In these crucial times, non-violence is key.


Every time you blame yourself for a mistake, you complain to your neighbour about the loud music, you tell your partner or children off for something they have done, are you practising Ahimsa? Ask yourself if your words and actions are coming from a place of understanding and compassion.


Ahimsa in yoga asanas (poses) is respecting and honouring your body and knowing your limitations. The physical practice enables you to learn your yourself inside and out. And as my friend and fellow yoga teacher Georgie says, this is your opportunity to turn your expectations into appreciation for what your body can do, shifting the focus from what it can't do.


Let's find this place where we can live free of wanting to bring harm upon ourselves or others. Let's leave behind those words and actions that hurt deeply. Let's start practising Ahimsa every day by removing the poisonous roots of anger and disbelief and planting the seeds of kindness and empathy.


 

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