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Yoga Philosophy Introduction: Ahimsha

September 3, 2021

In Ashtanga Yoga classes this week we’ve been introducing Ahimsha (non-harming/non-violence) and why we start with ahimsha when studying the yamas of the yoga sutras.

Ahimsha is the first of the Yamas, the yamas are the first limb of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. The yamas are a code of ethics, they aren't doctrine, they are guiding principles that each practitioner interprets for themselves to help them to live a life of yoga, a life in which we are seeking to live with more flexibility and ease and less effort. The yamas are based on the principle of karma, which is that our actions ripple out and have an effect on our own experience of life.

Starting with really establishing a practice of ahimsha enables us to be honestly fully present with what we are doing with incoming sensory data without falling into harmful thoughts - when we catch ourselves experiencing / thinking these thoughts we can reframe them as something focused on love, kindness and growth.

We practice this by noticing intention - what is our intention when dwelling on attempts that didn’t go as planned? Is it to cause ourselves harm? If we want to practice ahimsha it can’t be to do harm, so how about to learn what we can do differently? If it’s to learn for the future then the previous attempt can be reframed as a positive learning experience ❤️🙏

So, next time you catch yourself ruminating remind yourself of ahimsha and ask yourself how you can reframe your thoughts in a non-harmful way.

Emma, Studio Director & Ashtanga Yoga Teacher

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