The theme in my classes for the first 2 weeks of January is ahimsa*, translated as non-violence, or kindness. In our fast bright striving culture, we are taught to keep moving towards a goal, sometimes at a cost to our own happiness or well-being.
In yoga, the opposite is true. How we practice is just as important as what we practice. Of course, like all yoga principles, this can also be applied to your life off the mat. Do you stay up late on the computer, even though it might make your nerves feel jangled for sleep? Do negative thoughts, about yourself or anyone else, frequently arrive as visitors in your mind?
The most unkind way I behave is to pretend that I can bend time and space before leaving my house for an appointment, such that I’m rushing to be on time. When this no longer happens, I’ll know that I’ve mastered ahimsa.
* Ahimsa is the first of the 5 yamas (ethical restraints) as explained by the 2nd century BC Indian sage named Patanjali in his sutras - verses which deepen our self-knowledge, and show how yoga can be a profoundly transformative practice.
Patanjali described classical yoga as an 8-limbed path. You’re probably familiar with yoga poses and breathing practices - these are 2 components of the 8 limbs. The first 2 “limbs” are called yamas and niyamas, which are guidelines for living, as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago.
If you want to learn more, see this article called “Path to Happiness”:
May loving kindness guide your thoughts and actions.