Yama Start Looking Inward More, and Why We All Should
One of the first things we discussed in our 200-Hour YTT course was Patanjali’s ‘8 Limbs of Yoga’. The first we learnt was ‘Yama’, which includes Ahimsa. In theory, Ahimsa stands for non-violence and being non-injurious. What we do echoes back. Throughout the course, we have been constantly reminded by Master Sree that we should be aware of instances where we are prone to practicing Himsa on the mat, and that includes pushing ourselves too far past our physical limits – which in itself, is a form of self-harm, thus considered Himsa. Every single time I hear his voice telling us “Remember Ahimsa…”, it reminds me not only of the fact that I should step out of my own head for a second, breathe, and be kinder to my body, but also of the many instances I haven’t been practicing Ahimsa in my life.
As a teen and young adult, I’d spent years as a Competitive Cheerleader – I know, when we talk about Cheerleading, we mostly see pom-poms, short skirts, coordinated dance moves, and smiley faces by the side-lines. In reality, as Competitive Athletes we are tossed 10 feet into the air to perform flips and kicks before twisting into our cradles made up of – you guessed it – our fellow teammates. Getting the air punched out of you in a mishap really isn’t unheard of, in fact, it was pretty common. So are ice packs, swollen ankles, concussions, and well… basically a lot of joint pain. Even though I consider myself pretty fortunate to have retired from the sport with no broken bones or any severe permanent conditions, my years with the sport left me with weakness in my wrists and lower back that follows me till this day. Ever since immersing myself in the study of Yoga Philosophy in my YTT course, I’ve wondered several times how different it would’ve been had I been aware of Ahimsa throughout my younger years. In the spirit to do better now that we know better, I decided to come up with a list of small ways we can practice Ahimsa in our everyday life.
When we hear ‘violence’, we think ‘physical hurt’. When in fact violence could also come in the form of words. We can’t control the words that get passed around people every day, but the words we say and the words we tell ourselves are things within our control. Something I find myself often doing is criticizing myself. How I can’t hold my balance or straighten my knee exactly while attempting Birds of Paradise. This negative thought cycle moves through my head like poison, tarnishing every thought that follows the one before. This not only affects the way I talk to myself, but also the way I talk or think about others. Therefore I say, if you are trying to practice Ahimsa, and to start to “do no harm”, you have to start within yourself. Start by giving yourself some luvvvv.
Rest, rest, rest!!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about becoming one with the couch all day every day. But due to the demands of modern life, we sometimes don’t give rest the attention it deserves. Adequate sleep and rest is basic to our everyday needs and when we forgo rest due to everyday demands, it not only messes with our health, it tips us off-balance, affecting our mood, behavior, and general wellbeing. In summary, GET YOUR ZZZ’s.
Stop Holding Onto Things
Modern day humans have adapted to form attachments with things and people, we hold onto them like children to candy. We feel a need to control every aspect of our lives, though some self-control can be beneficial to our survival, an excessive need to be in control of the outcome of every little thing can eat away at our mental clarity – triggering fear-induced decision-making and behaviors. Once we identify and start letting negative things (and people) go, we learn to open ourselves up to new experiences, people, and ideas and we are able to live in the present.
Of course, there is still such a vast ocean of knowledge I have yet to touch upon with regards to Ahimsa and Yoga Philosophy as a whole. But if we start looking inward a little bit more everyday, it all adds up as time goes by.