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Is your Yoga Practice taking you “off the mat”?

I have often heard the phrase “Yoga off the mat” as a way to explain the importance of taking one’s personal yoga practice (on the mat) to connect more profoundly to the wider world (off the mat).  And while this is a beautiful, poetic way to describe the importance of outward expression, and I do personally love this expression; this description implies that yoga on the mat is somewhat a separate activity to that off the mat.

If indeed we find it necessary to describe yoga in terms of “on and off the mat” then it appears that we are losing yoga’s original, ancient meaning.

The term yoga is translated as “union” and so the goal or destination of yoga (union) is yoga (union) itself.  Simply put, the goal of yoga is yoga!

Yoga is the process of connecting, awakening and realisation.  Consider this description of yoga: Yoga is physical system with a spiritual movement.

This description is quite fitting with how yoga is viewed today, particularly in the West.  However, it would be more accurate to rephrase the statement in this way: Yoga is a spiritual system with a physical movement.

Sometimes the spiritual realm can feel quite distant, unknown and unattainable.  So it is helpful to start with something we are familiar with.  We know our bodies – our body is tangible.  We can touch it, feel it, see it.  What better way to start, than with something physical, real and obvious to our senses.  Our body is what we know and so we work with that to help us journey through the process of spiritual discovery.

Our body is what helps us connect to our mind, to our breath…to consciousness.  So we start the practice using our body.  With regular, sustained practice, we start to notice changes in our lives; our way of thinking, our approach to life, suffering, happiness, relationships, attitudes and our way of “being” in the world – THIS IS YOGA working! This is UNITY.  This is “yoga off the mat”.    Peaceful beings

Yoga is a science; a practical philosophy that deals with the body, breath, mind and soul and ultimately the universal Self… connecting to the divine! Yoga uses the physical body to help us journey to the ultimate goal of spiritual realisation.

Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutras that we can achieve this spiritual realisation through a regular and sustained practice (1.14).  So what are you waiting for?

Get on your mat, practice unity.

Be present and create the space for change.

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I no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I believe in Daily Resolutions

So it’s that time of year again; where we hear about New Year’s Resolutions and how we are encouraged to set new goals for the year – usually in the area of good health and fitness. Have you done yours yet? Do you make one every year? Do you find them beneficial?

A New Year’s Resolution is a positive way to start the year as it helps us set clear goals and a focus.  It is said that goals help us have a positive attitude and helps direct a purpose in what we do.  And while I used to think about New Year’s resolutions back in my teens, it was when I started a regular yoga practice that forming a New Year’s resolution each year became obsolete.  Why you ask? Well, yoga is so transformative, that I found I was renewing my health on a daily basis with my yoga practice.  As a result of a daily practice; my body, mind and soul were constantly being nourished – through the natural highs and lows of life circumstances.

You see, yoga is a sadhana; a spiritual practice or discipline.  Yes, a discipline.  It is work.  Hard work, in fact.  With this hard work, yoga becomes second nature and forms part of your life and who you are, not something ‘extra’ that you do.  When I began this daily practice/discipline of yoga, I found so many areas of my life changing naturally.  The Yoga Sutras talk about abyasa which is translated as practice or effort.  Without the actual doing, nothing happens.  Practice makes it possible to go deeper, to evolve and to transform your life.

With a regular practice, my physical health boomed and I felt lighter, stronger and more open and comfortable in my body.  My self-image became more positive and I generally felt great every day! I slept better and developed positive habits around sleep – sleeping early at night and rising early with the sun to start the day with a yoga practice before work.  With this physical evolution, my state of mind became calmer and clearer.  I developed a more positive attitude to life and a greater acceptance of life’s trials.  I became more aware of how my thoughts, words and actions were deeply connected and how my yoga practice helped keep them in a state of harmony.  This then affected my relationships and I developed amazing friendships with inspiring people who I would never have met if I wasn’t open to new experiences and challenges in life.  This lifestyle led me to travel the world more and see the riches that life has to offer.  I could never have dreamed this future for myself when I walked into my first yoga class many years ago!

Yoga cultivates a spiritual discipline, a sadhana that is addictive – but in a good way 🙂 A good yoga practice (and when I say good, I mean a steady, regular practice that is guided by a teacher), will ignite a fire within you that keeps you coming back for more.  This fire or heat is known as tapas.  Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras describes tapas as an important aspect of a personal discipline (niyama).   You can simply look at tapas as energy or discipline.  How are you directing your tapas – your energy? The Yoga Sutras say that we should direct our tapas to things that support our wellbeing and growth.  So it is not just what you do on your mat but how that translates off the mat in your life.  If what you are doing on the mat is good then this will be reflected in your life off the mat.  For example, your eating habits may change as a result of a regular yoga practice.  You may find that heavy foods bloat you or make you feel lethargic and hinder your yoga practice and so you start to stay away from those foods and choose more nutritious foods that make you feel light and refreshed.

As another example, take a common yoga pose such as virabhadrasna II (Warrior 2).  After holding this posture for a few breaths, you begin to feel your legs burn and your heart rate increase, your arms aching…. this is tapas at work! It is easier to come out of the posture early and rest and more challenging to persevere and make a conscious effort to breathe through the challenge.

When people find out that I am a yoga teacher and they have never done yoga before, they often say something like “oh yoga must be so nice and relaxing!”.  And while this is definitely an outcome of a steady yoga practice, it sure often doesn’t seem relaxing usually at the time! In fact, yoga is hard work that requires a great deal of focus, concentration, strength and flexibility and did I mention discipline already? 🙂

Guru Swami Haritharanda (Kriya yoga) says that “when the body develops the power to endure hardship and when the mind does not get easily upset by lack of physical comfort, one becomes qualified in practicing yoga”.  So basically when you are able to stay calm amidst the discomfort; that is when you are practicing yoga.  The Yoga Sutras defines asana (posture) as ‘stirum, sukem, asanam’ – steady and comfortable.  You only have to look at some amazing photographs of yoga practitioners in advanced postures to think “gosh, they make it look so easy!” But this “easy-ness” appearance is exceptionally strong, steady and focused which is a result of years of discipline and work.

So for this year’s focus, perhaps direct your tapas to your daily resolution of practicing yoga. It doesn’t need to be a long exerted practice to be effective. Even a sun salute once a day, a simple breathing exercise, meditation or gentle asanas each morning upon waking or before bed. Always try and get to a regular yoga class so you can connect with your teacher to guide you along your journey. Make a daily resolution to cultivate a personal yoga practice and watch your life unfold!

new year tapas

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The Eighth Limb of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path: Samadhi (absolute consciousness)

Last month, we covered the seventh limb of Ashtanga yoga – Dhyana (meditation).  All previous posts can be found on the YWG GRACE-MAIL archives.  Now we are going to explore the eighth and final limb:  Samadhi (absolute consciousness).

 Just a reminder that the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Yama (restraint)
  2. Niyama (observances)
  3. Asana (posture)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (controlling the senses)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (absolute consciousness)

 This month’s focus: SAMADHI

If you walked the streets and asked people what they think the purpose of yoga would be, many would suggest that yoga is about flexibility, strength, fitness and health.  As much as this is true and these are definitely by-products of practicing yoga; the ultimate goal of yoga is not about touching your toes and feeling healthy.  The main purpose or goal of yoga is self-realisation.  Pure consciousness.  Samadhi.

According to Patanjali, this eight fold path of yoga leads to a full experience of samadhi, which is the realisation of pure consciousness.  It is a supreme experience where through acute sensuous perception, one has direct knowledge of an object in truth of its own nature, completely free from the distortions of our imagination.  In other words, one generally distorts their sense perception based on preconceived ideas and beliefs, hence samadhi is the full experience of seeing things for what they are, not what one thinks they ought to be.  This is where one uncovers the union of yoga; union between humanity, unity between human and nature and union with God.  Samadhi can be seen as a state of emptiness of the human mind and language and fullness in itself.

So yoga shows the way to Samadhi.   Yoga is not simply an accumulation of asana or devotional practices, but rather a transformation of body and spirit which aims for completion of the whole person.  Samadhi can be described as a state of ‘enstasy’.  We are all familiar with the term ‘ecstasy’ where one is in a state of outward joy or bliss.  However, Enstasy is described as an inward state of joy or bliss.  The term enstasy was coined by Mircea Eliade to describe the state of Samadhi as ‘standing inside oneself’ as opposed to the Western term ‘ecstasy’ which is a state of ‘standing outside oneself’.   So the joy or bliss one experiences in a state of Samadhi is derived from within us, not outside or external sources.  Yoga engenders an inward blissful state… a state of complete awareness…Samadhi.  It is a state so complete that it is indefinable beyond speech.  It is experienced.

So now that we know the purpose of yoga, how do we achieve this state? Well over the past few months, we have looked into detail at Patanjali’s eight fold path which leads to Samadhi.  Quite simply though, avoid over thinking it…start with the here and now.  Get on your mat, breathe, move and be mindful.  Do your yoga practice and all will come!

 “Practice, practice.  All is coming.” Pattabhi Jois

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The Seventh Limb of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path: Dhyana (meditation)

Last month, we covered the sixth limb of Ashtanga yoga – dharana (concentration).  Now we are going to explore the seventh limb:  Dhyana (meditation).

Just a reminder that the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Yama (restraint)
  2. Niyama (observances)
  3. Asana (posture)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (controlling the senses)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (absolute consciousness)

 This month’s focus: DHYANA

The last three limbs of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga are inward practices.  The sixth limb, dharana (concentration) and the seventh limb, dhyana (meditation) are higher stages of the same discipline.  Dharana is the concentration on a particular physical or spiritual centre and dhyana is a continuous meditation or deep thinking beyond the mind.  Next month we look at Samadhi (absolute consciousness or union) which is the ultimate goal of yoga.

When practising dharana (concentration) we focus on a particular object or word/phrase.  Dhyana is sustained concentration which we refer to as meditation.  As we begin to have focused concentration, we progressively move inwards to a meditative state.

It is very difficult for a beginner to meditate for long periods of time.  Asana (postures) is what we usually begin with when we begin yoga for the first time.  We begin with the here and now – our body.  We are familiar with the physical world.  The body is tangible.  We can feel it.  So what better place to start.  Once we work on the body through asana, the body becomes more supple and is able to sit comfortably for a sustained period of time.  If the body is not comfortable, how can we hold a seated pose for meditation? With regular asana practice, we become more comfortable in our physical body, which leads to a more ready attitude towards meditation.  For this reason, meditation is well practiced and well received by the body and mind at the end of an asana practice.  Once you have calmed the body, calmed the mind… you are now ready to take your seat and just be.  Simply be.

At first glance, yoga can look like acrobatics or gymnastics.  However, it is within the asana practice that we learn many deep inward lessons that translate into our seated meditation practice.  You can experience concentration and focus in your asana practice! When you focus your attention on your alignment, you are practicing dharana! As you become more experienced, your concentration becomes much easier and you find yourself ‘lost’ in the practice, where often times you come in and out of a pose and do it ‘without thinking’.  This is dhyana.  As you become more supple and experienced in the practice, your mind becomes at ease and you focus without strain.

Ashtanga yoga has often been described as a ‘moving meditation’.  This has been my experience in the 11 years I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga.  At first, I felt lost in the poses, trying to remember the sequence of postures and correct alignment.  However after some time, the postures came more easily to me.  I didn’t need to focus so hard on my alignment, because it just came with regular discipline and commitment.  There are times I have practiced and been so ‘lost in the practice’ that I was uninterrupted by thought and felt like I was in a meditative state.  I sometimes get half way through my practice and suddenly stop and think, ‘How did I get here?!”

As the mind repeats asana over and over, your yoga practice becomes second nature.  The mind becomes so well trained, that eventually your mind will rest in the present moment.  This is dhyana…meditation!

  • When you practice asana, observe the mind… are your thoughts focusing on the pose, or is the mind wondering about the chores you have ahead of you?
  • Where is your drishti (focused eye gaze) when you practice asana? Your eye gaze is vital in assisting the practitioner to remain focused.  The mind goes with the eye…if you are looking at your neighbour…your thoughts will no doubt follow!

 

“I felt in need of a great pilgrimage, so I sat still for three days and God came to me.”  – Kabir (15th Century Indian Poet)

 

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The Fourth Niyama: Swadhyaya (Self-study)

To refresh from last month, the five niyamas (codes of conduct/regulations) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Saucha (purity or cleanliness)
  2. Santosha (contentment)
  3. Tapas (austerity)
  4. Swadhyaya (self-study)
  5. Pranidhana (devotion to God).

Last month, we looked at the seconde niyama – tapas (austerity).  This month, let’s explore the third niyama – swadhyaya in more detail.

 This month’s focus: Swadhyaya

Swadhyaya is the practice of self-study and self-analysis.  Sva is interpreted as ‘self’ and adhyaya means ‘investigation or inquiry’.   As yogis, we are encouraged to self-inquire daily through practices such asana, pranayama and meditation.  Traditionally, swadhyaya is attributed to the study of sacred texts.  According to Patanjali, in order to attain a greater understanding of one’s true being, the study of scriptures is important.  The scriptures are used to assist one in engaging in life spiritually through self-inquiry.

We can often go through life without looking deeply within ourselves, our values, actions and the impact we have on others by our thoughts, words and actions.  The yogi is encouraged to engage in self-reflection by analysing the impact they have on others.  You may think you come to yoga to build fitness and build strength and flexibility; which of course is true; however, through these practices we are engaging in the act of swadhyaya.  We flow through postures using breath and movement, building concentration… we scan the body, we bring our awareness to our breath, we still the mind…all practices of self-reflection.  By doing this, we get to know ourselves more honestly and see ourselves for what we are, not who we think we are.

So how well do you practice swadhyaya in your life?
Do you take time out daily to focus on your breath?
To sit still with no TV, music or stimulation?
How can you incorporate some self-reflection daily?
Do you look within to seek guidance, understanding and wisdom?

“Study, when it is developed to the highest degree, brings one close to higher forces that promote understanding of the most complex.”  -The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 11.44

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The Third Niyama: Tapas (Austerity)

To refresh from last month, the five niyamas (codes of conduct/regulations) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Saucha (purity or cleanliness)
  2. Santosha (contentment)
  3. Tapas (austerity)
  4. Swadhyaya (self-study)
  5. Pranidhana (devotion to God).

Last month, we looked at the seconde niyama – Santosha (contentment).  This month, let’s explore the third niyama – tapas in more detail.

This month’s focus: Tapas

Tapas is the practice of discipline and self-control.  It literally means “heat” and refers to an inner fire or energy which enables one to control the body and the mind.  The ability to do this is created by ascetic practices such as fasting, silence and self-discipline leading to the ultimate tapas which is union with the Atman (Self).  This heat-producing work often requires a level of self-denial or selflessness and can include practices such as walking instead of catching a bus, almsgiving, practicing regular and consistent asana (posture) and pranayama (breathing exercises), donating regularly to a charity and a commitment to mindful speech.  These practices of self-discipline are quiet and controlled and may also include regular ritualistic worship.  Spiritual disciplines for the yogi are considered channels to heightening one’s desire, awareness and love of God.

In our modern day society, tapas is becoming lost, especially with the immediate access to everything we could ask for, there is little reason to wait or show any discipline.  Some examples are our quick access to knowledge via the Internet, overuse of our credit cards and who uses snail mail these days when email, text messages or Facebook create an instant response? It is difficult to exercise self-control in a society that does not value the practice of self-denial or selflessness.

So how do you practice tapas in your life?
In what ways can you try to exercise self-control or discipline?

If you want to read more about tapas, an article that I found interesting can be read here.

“How much do you want it? That’s how much effort you give to the desire. That’s the offering. It has to be equal.” -John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga

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The Second Niyama: Santosha (Contentment)

To refresh from last month, the five niyamas (codes of conduct/regulations) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1.  Saucha (purity or cleanliness)
  2. Santosha (contentment)
  3. Tapas (austerity)
  4. Swadhyaya (self-study)
  5. Pranidhana (devotion to God).

Last month, we looked at the first niyama – saucha (purity or cleanliness).  This month, let’s explore the second niyama – santosha in more detail.

This month’s focus: Santosha

Santosha refers to contentment of one’s lot in life and the desire for no more than what is available to you.  It is an internal balance where one accepts the pleasures and pains of the world and preserves a sense of contentment within.  A key understanding of santosha is living in the present time; not longing for the past or worrying about the future, but an awareness of one’s responsibility in the present time.  Santosa is about cultivating an inner state of satisfaction with what you have – with whatever comes, be it the joys and the suffering.  Contentment is not a passive acceptance of suffering, but a balanced and controlled way of seeing the world, where an attitude of equanimity is closely associated with peace and joy.

This sense of contentment can be difficult in our often busy, materialistic world.  It is easy to buy into the ‘Greatest happiness’ perception of life, where we see happiness as a future goal… “If I get this job, then I will be happy… if I get married, I will be happy… if I earn this much money, I will be happy….”.  This way of thinking promotes a future/goal oriented attitude where happiness is not yet realised until a future achievement is gained.  The fact is, when one does achieve these goals, often times it does not bring this sense of happiness one was searching for, or a sense of contentment.  It is not uncommon to seek the next future desire to then make us happy.  When one seeks santosha, and finds awakening in the contentment of the present, our ‘need’ for things dissipate and a deeper sense of joy and contentment resides within.  This releases a sense of simplistic freedom within oneself.

So how do you practice santosha in your own life?
How do you live in the present moment and find contentment right here, right now, even when life is difficult?

True happiness comes from contentment with whatever one has, not with thinking that one will be happy when one gets all one desires.
~
 Edwin Bryant

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The Fifth Yama: Aparigraha (non-coveting)

To refresh, the five yamas (codes of conduct) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Ahimsa (non-aggression or non-violence)
  2. Satyam (truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (continence)
  5. Aparigraha (non-coveting). 

We previously looked at the fourth yama – Brahmacharya (continence).  Now, let’s explore the fifth yama – aparigraha in more detail.

 Focus: APARIGRAHA

Aparigraha is often interpreted as non-greed or non-coveting.  It is the abstention from possessiveness, greed, selfishness and acquisitiveness. Aparigraha is about accepting what one has and being mindful when giving and receiving.  In our contemporary consumerist society, this concept of simple living is a difficult one for many to grasp especially when we just have to get the new iPhone 5 or the latest gadgets or fashion items.  Ask yourself how many computer devices you own – a phone (perhaps more than one?), a computer, a laptop, an iPad… anything else? Aparigraha invites us to choose simple living by looking at our lives and asking ourselves the right questions – do we need this extra item? Am I being greedy? Is what I have enough? Will I truly be happy with more possessions?

In essence, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy or having many possessions; however it is the attitude of consumerism and attachment to possessions that can be harmful.  No doubt we have seen how wealth can lead to greed and excessive absorption of earthly cares in famous figures and even people that we know personally.

So instead of focusing on what we do not have or what we need more of…let us draw our attention to gratitude.

I started a gratitude journal about two years ago when I had a miscarriage.  I was absolutely devastated and I found it hard to get out of my sadness.  This journal I found is an App on the iPhone so it was really easy to use and something I wouldn’t forget to do.  Each night I would record what I felt gratitude for that day or in life in general.  This simple practice really helped bring me back to a positive outlook on life.

I read this quote once ‘if you can’t change it, then change the way you think about it’ and I found a daily gratitude journal helped me maintain a positive outlook each and every day, even the tough ones.

So how do you practice aparigraha in your life?
Do you take more than you need?
How do you show gratitude for what you already have?

Gratitude turns what we have into enough
Melodie Beattie

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The Fourth Yama: Brahmacharya (Continence)

To refresh from last month, the five yamas (codes of conduct) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:

  1. Ahimsa (non-aggression or non-violence)
  2. Satyam (truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (continence)
  5. Aparigraha (non-coveting).

Last month, we looked at the third yama – Asteya (non-stealing).  This month, let’s explore the fourth yama – brahmachharya in more detail.

 This month’s focus: BRAHMACHARYA

Brahmacharya is keeping control of one’s desires, particularly sexual ones.  It is chastity of word, thought and deed.  One who practices brahmacharya is said to be one whose mind is always fixed on the divine Being to achieve purity of heart.  Attachment to sensual pleasures, such as sex is seen as an obstacle to spiritual knowledge.  One who pursues the ascetic life interprets brahmacharya as strict celibacy; where traditionally yogis lived in seclusion.  However the contemporary yogi often interprets this yama to mean an appreciation of the sacredness of all acts and faithfulness to one partner or spouse.

The practice of Brahmacharya gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. When one’s focus is less on the physical, the mind begins to focus on the spiritual.  Strength and fortitude are obtained which gives purity and calm to the mind.

‘Brahma’ means divine and ‘carya’ means ‘movement’ so we can interpret brahmacharya to mean recognising the divine in all movements or beings.  Brahmacharya calls the yogi to live a sanctified life seeing sacredness or divinity in all actions by living a life of mindfulness in all relationships.

How do you live brahmacharya in your own life?
Do you value mindfulness and sacredness in all your relationships?

To be able to realise God, one must practise brahmacharya
~
 Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa

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The First limb of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path: YAMA

Last month, we looked generally at Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path, where the practice of yoga as a spiritual discipline is organised into eight limbs or parts.  The Eight limbs are:

  1. Yama (restraint)
  2. Niyama (observances)
  3. Asana (posture)
  4. Pranayama (breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (controlling the senses)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (absolute consciousness)

Each month, we will take a close look at each ‘limb’ and highlight the emphasis and expressions provided by them.

This month’s focus: YAMA

Patanjali stipulates yama as the universal social discipline, the great commandment that transcends all ages, creeds, country and time. The term yama can have different interpretations; rein, curb, bridle, discipline or restraint.  In today’s context, yama would mean self-control or forbearance which would then describe one’s particular attitudes (disciplines) which then influences their behaviour.  The Yamas are the behaviour patterns or relationships between the individual and the outside world.  Patanjali mentions five different yamas:

  1. ahimsa (non-aggression or non-violence)
  2. Satyam (truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (continence)
  5. Aparigraha (non-coveting).

Let us look at Ahimsa, the first yama in more detail.

Ahimsa is non-violence or non-aggression not only in action but also in speech and thought.  One must observe ahimsa in the way they speak to others and even in their body language, cultivating love for all. One must see themselves as a servant to others, and be willing to put themselves at the service of others (when of course the purposes are good, not evil).  A truly helpful person is described as a public bus; it travels along a fixed route to a destination but available to all who care to use it.

Ahimsa requires more than simply an attitude of patience, control and endurance; it is a true open heart of love and forgiveness towards others.

Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals.  This is one reason why you would often find many dedicated yogis who are committed to a vegetarian diet.  It is deeply connected to this notion of non-violence towards all living things.  Ahimsa calls us to reduce the suffering of others and helps us recognise the preciousness of all life.  Ahimsa is core to the spiritual and ethical practice of yoga.

Some reflection questions to consider on the role of ahimsa in your life:

  • Love can transform us… how has love in your life (through giving and receiving) transformed you in any way?
  • In what ways have you observed ahimsa in your life?
  • Are there times in your life where you have not observed ahimsa in the best way?
  • What is one thing you can give more attention to in your life that contributes to ahimsa?(Remember ahimsa encompasses thoughts, speech and actions … small acts are truly significant!)

Next month, we’ll look at the second Yama in Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path…. Satyam (truthfulness).

 Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu (Sanskrit mantra)
Translation:
May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words, actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.