Sure, Yoga is a great way to develop strength and flexibility but did you know it also provides a blueprint for healthier living beyond the physical body? The practice of Yoga, according to the ancient sage Patanjali, also included ten ethical principles known as the yamas and niyamas. Yama is translated as “reining in” or “control” which tends to have a negative connotation in our culture. But we can look at the yamas like a pathway to happiness.
The first of the five yamas is Ahimsa (Non-harming). Ahimsa is respect for all living things and peacefulness towards all. Minimally, this translates to avoiding violence or causing injury towards others or self. On the mat, this may look like not getting too pushy with yourself, straining or struggling in a version of a pose that isn’t appropriate for the current state of body, energy, or mind. Off the mat, it may include reducing or completely removing animal products from your diet. The beauty of the yamas and niyamas is that they are open to personal interpretations!
Try any number of the following suggestions to practice your own version of Ahimsa:
· Give genuine compliments to everyone you come into contact with today.
· Refrain from self-criticism or judgment.
· Be a calm, courteous driver.
· Live each day as environmentally friendly as possible.
· Practice openness and acceptance of others with differing points of view.
· Resolve conflicts peacefully and in a timely manner.
· Choose not to engage in any form of gossip today.
· Nourish your body with healthy foods and plenty of water and sleep.