Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra have told about Yama and Nyama. Ahimsa is one of the Yama.
The meaning of Ahimsa literally is: to be without harm. The explanation that Patanjali said is pretty easy to understand, don’t harm anybody, not even lifeless objects. The goal is to master this feeling and our life can be improved.
This is the theory behind this but how do we put in practice, especially on our daily life and also in our practice?
Well the meaning about not harming anybody is considered to ourselves, Human beings, animals and nature. For this reason we should follow some rules in order to get Ahimsa in our daily life. Remember Yoga is a path, any sudden change you make from day to day might not lead you to the right path. Think about the change, understand its meaning, understand why you actually want to do it and if you are ready for this go ahead. Following a Yogic life take time and with the time, studies and practice we will understand the change we will go through.
When we say, don’t harm yourself we should see that there are many ways to harm ourselves like; having bad lifestyle or overthinking and give stress to our mind, don’t practice Yoga or anything that make your lifestyle healthier and also the way we talk in our daily life and the way we act toward other is also part of harming ourselves. We should care first of this aspects, when we respect the Self we will be ready to respect the other people, don’t miss this step. This is the key to all others.
Don’t harm Human beings and animal. Well I would put this two togethers because if somebody scream to a human being, sure will scream to an animal. The respect toward other people is the first thing to follow. We also have to remember that our freedom it ends when other’s people freedom start. So we should share our knowledge of Ahimsa and being not harmful as not using physical, mental or verbal violence but we also need to think that if we are going to impose our way of think, we are harming other’s people freedom. I have seen situation where being vegetarian (should be part of Yogic path since is included in Ahimsa)is something to show that other people are making mistakes and hurting animals. But we should be vegetarian for ourselves not for the people that surround us. We should promote this way of lifestyle until we can talk with right attitude and with the a constructive communication.
Don’t harm nature. Very simple. Don’t pick flowers while you do a pic nic. Try to have as less impact as you can toward nature related to pollution; plastic free can be a step, I am also trying to start doing it, go minimal and don’t buy much materialistic things, don’t litter anywhere, don’t cut trees or being part of situation where nature can be put in danger.
How we practice Ahimsa while Practicing?
Don’t force yourself into poses, remember that each pose you practice should be done in total comfort, if you feel too much discomfort (little bit is ok to improve your practice) you are hurting yourself. Don’t push yourself mentally too much over, don’t get ”addicted” of Yoga. You should practice everyday but for some reason you cannot, don’t get angry (you hurt yourself mentally)instead try to see if you can practice pranayama, karma yoga, meditation or any other yoga practice. Don’t try to compare yourself to other Yogi or to follow an achievement with attachment. It will lead you to harm yourself and also other people.
As you could see is that Ahimsa, is very easy. Is just a matter of.. practice! Practice is not just about asana but we should practice and improve our behave, lifestyle, love, respect and all the other things that lead us to the right path of Ahimsa!
Which Ahimsa would you improve that you are missing out? Think about it and try to fix it up, slowly take your time. Don’t rush it!