Yoga students are aware that Yoga goes much beyond the practice of asanas. Yoga is a philosophy of life that encompass many different aspects of our daily routines. Probably one of the most well-known principles of a Yogic lifestyle is Ahimsa.
Ahimsa (Sanskrit: अहिंसा) is the first of the 5 Yamas of Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali, or in a most simple way, one of the principles that regulate our relationships.
The word derives from the sanskirt root ¨hims¨ which means ¨to strike¨, ¨himsa¨ is ¨injury or harm¨ so ahimsa is the opposite, meaning not to hurt, not to cause any harm, it is the non-violence principle.
Now, when we first say violence, we immediately think of physical violence, but there are 3 sutil levels of violence :
1- Violence through thoughts
2- Violence through words
3- Violence through actions
Observe whatever you think, observe whatever you say, observe however you act. Whenever you hurt someone, no matter however you do, you are also hurting yourself. We are one, so any thoughts, words or actions towards others, are also hurting ourselves.
1- Violence Through Thoughts
Thoughts have energy, powerful energy! When you think bad or negative thoughts towards someone, that energy is projected to the other being. But it does not stop there, it also leaves traces in your own being, so you are hurting yourself by thinking bad of others.
This is even worse when the bad or negative thoughts are directed to ourselves. Don’t allow your mind to take over your nature of love and kindness towards all living beings.
Observe whatever you think!
2- Violence through words
If thoughts are powerful, words only amplify that energy. You can never take back a word and the hurtful ones can cut deep and they don’t heal fast. Think before saying anything, this way you should stop the harmful words before they happen.
Observe whatever you say!
3- Violence through action
This is the most common type of violence that we imagine. You use your body as a weapon to hurt other beings. Of course that we all have the right to defend ourselves, but it does not give us the right to attack. Someone that uses physical violence is not even considered human anymore, it is degraded to an animal level.
Observe however you act!
Now that we have a clear understanding of the meaning of Ahimsa, we can start changing our lives to live by this yogic principle. We need to consider that whatever we think, whatever we say, however we act needs to be right for oneself, to the other human beings and to all other living beings.
Start with small changes, first observe your thoughts. Moreover, observe how you think about yourself! Do you wake up in the morning thinking that you are fat, ugly, unlovable? This is an act of violence against yourself. You are a beautiful loving soul! Change your thought pattern about yourself. Mastering the thought about oneself will make it easier to master the ill thoughts about others. And from there, even easier to prevent ill words to come out of your mouth. If you are not thinking or saying, you will most likely not act either and finally master the physical violence too.
Once you start on this path, you will be including all living beings in your practice and it will become clear the reason why many yogis are vegetarians and even vegans. The Ahimsa principle prevents violence against animals, so no meat is consumed since there was an act of violence towards a life so you could eat it. This is the ultimate stage of Ahimsa, where all living beings are considered by you on your thoughts, words and actions.
Like everything in Yoga, this should be a path. Work on it everyday and you will start to see the changes around you reflecting your non-harmful nature. After all, this is our true nature.
Love and Peace, Namaste!
Yoga teacher trainings based on Love and Care: