Ahimsa: What does kindness look like when you’re in the midst of a pandemic?
Pausing to consider kindness (ahimsa) influences the choices you make. One of the yama practices of yoga, literally means “non-harming”
On our yoga mat we practice ahimsa in the way we treat ourselves, consistently choosing the kindest action for our bodies, minds and spirits. Living in the midst of a global pandemic, this practice of ahimsa is off the mat as well. Looking at this from a yogic perspective, should our concern be just for what harms us as individuals, or what is for the greater good?
Embracing reverence and love for all (Ahimsa) we experience oneness
This first Yama that represents compassion, love, kindness has a mantra that is so meaningful in a personal way to me and that is…
Ahimsa is one of the five yamas, which is the first “limb” of the Patanjali’s eightfold path (ashtanga) as described in the Yoga Sutras. Ahimsa is considered to be the most important of the five types of yamas because it represents the right attitude necessary to lead a moral life.
Most traditionally Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning “non-harming.” The term is derived from the root word himsa, meaning “to cause pain,” and the prefix, a, that means “not.”
In a broader sense, ahimsa means “universal love and compassion.”
Practice of ahimsa involves refraining from causing physical and psychological pain to any living being. Gandhi said Ahimsa is being non-violent in thought and action, in body and soul. It is the absence of violence in physical, mental and emotional forms.
Here in this video is what this means to me in practical application for real life.
I would love for us to consider the kind of behaviour we are promoting through Ahimsa, which is kindness which is love. Love itself is the very foundational principle of yoga.
Too often in this world we see people caught up in cruelty, violence, destruction, in harming other people. So this is why we practice yoga, it is a form of SACRED ACTIVISM.
It’s not just about doing no harm to ourselves or others in words, thoughts or actions, but means to stand up for the rights of other people around us. That no one deserves to have cruelty or violence to be done to them.
It is within your power and is your responsibility to do no harm to all life.
So how can you be more peaceful, more benevolent to all?
Consider the social conditioning and behavior that exists towards BIPOC and immigrants: that we can mistreat them: like they are invisible, that they are worth LESS and worth nothing and worthless. Or we can look at others and treat them equally and the same as us, no matter the color of their skin or who they choose to love. That we should treat everyone with the same honor, and respect, kindness and love.
These are the sacred principles of yoga – this activism that asks us to stand up for ourselves and to stand up for those that are maligned around us, those that don’t have a voice to stand up for themselves, or due to systemic racism and sexism need support from everyone so that everyone can stand up for the rights of those that simply don’t have that strength, that power, or that place in society, to have a platform to stand up for themselves.
So think about it, do you believe if you are not doing the harming then you are doing enough? IS THAT REALLY ENOUGH? Is this Ahimsa?
To apply this from a yogic perspective it’s not enough to say I’m not contributing to the violence or the cruelty because by not doing anything that TOO IS A CRUEL ACTION.
According to yoga it’s not enough to stand back and watch other people being harmed, just because you aren’t the one doing the harming.
This is the construct we can use to bring about change to this world.
We can do better that what we’ve been doing.
The world we are leaving our children’s children is being created today.
Watch more…be inspired to #TeachPeace the mission of Alchemy of Yoga.