1.1 Yama: Ahimsa - Non harming

January 8, 2018

As promised in the Winter Newsletter, in 2018 we will delve into the basis of Yoga Philosophy, the 8 limbs of Yoga (see previous blog post on 8 limbs of Yoga).

 

The first of the eight limbs is Yama - restraints from negative behavior to find peace within the outside world (see previous blog post on Yamas, and we will also go through each and every one of them in details in the coming weeks).

 

The Yoga Sutras Chapter 2.30-2.31 states 'Yama is abstention from violence, lying, stealing, incontinence and greed. These basic rules of conduct transcend class, place, time, place or circumstances.'

 

Thus the 5 Yamas (restraints) suggested by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are:

- Ahimsa - non harming/non violence

- Satya - truthfulness

- Asteya - non-stealing 

- Brahmacharya - moderation, right use of energy 

- Aparigraha - non-coveting, non-craving

 

We start at the beginning, with the most important one in my opinion, Ahimsa - non harming / non violence, where we are advised to restrain from anything that causes harm to others and ourselves through action, word and even thought.

The Sutra 2.35 says 'When we believe in not harming others, all creatures will cease to feel hostility in our presence.'

 

Now think about this for a second. The 10 commandments also states 'You shall not murder'. Non harming goes a little bit further than this. Most of us would not even think about murdering someone or causing physical pain to them. But, how many times do we hurt people by our thoughts (yes, they can feel the negative thoughts directed at them), words or actions? Or, against ourselves! The affirmations that keep on going in our heads, are they negative (harming to us) or loving and positive?

 

I encourage you to be mindful of being non harming this week, towards yourself and others. Be it in thought, words and actions. Be it slight, moderate or severe. See how when you practice this Yama / restriction, how is the world reacting to you.

 

Namaste 

Dora

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