Inaugural Blog: Ahimsa ~ Creating a holistic foundation for continued wellness!

April 21, 2011

It’s official.  I am now blogging!

My intention with this blog is to provide a more in depth look at the themes I’m offering in class each week, as well as thoughts and insights as they arrive in my life.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I’m going to enjoy flexing my writing muscles on a more frequent basis.

So here goes….

This spring, I’ve decided to revisit the Yamas and the Niyamas through my teaching in weekly yoga classes.  As I sat down with the Yamas and Niyamas after allowing them to sit on the shelf, figuratively speaking for the past few years, I remembered why I have always considered them to be the “10 Commandments of Yoga”.  Full of the Don’ts and Do’s that help us create healthy relationships with ourself and the world we live in, the Yamas and Niyamas give us limits and guidelines to live by. Boundaries and rules are not my strong suit, but generally speaking they can be super helpful in navigating almost anything we’ll come across in life.

The lens we normally view the Yamas and Niyamas through is a Classical Yoga lens, which offers the Yamas as “moral observances” or restraints.  Otherwise known as “Don’t Do’s”.

The first of these is “Ahimsa” which is conventionally defined as Non-Violence or Non-Harming;  Also non-injury and non-killing.

Pretty standard stuff.  Limiting the suffering we are personally responsible for is, I think, a valuable premise to observe.

But this view of Ahimsa doesn’t indicate what I SHOULD do instead of violence or harm.  It simply tells me not to injure others, which is helpful, but doesn’t get me far in the endeavor of creating change in my relationship with myself or anyone else for that matter.

So I came up with a more positive approach to Ahimsa.

In the absence of violence, what exists in a relationship?

In the absence of harm or injury, what actions can thrive?

Without hurting one another we are?

The words I came up with: Health, Healing, Wellness.  Peace.  Grace.

If we alter the dialogue of Ahimsa from “Don’t hurt people” to “establish regular acts of healing in your life”  we personally cultivate a wellness that radiates out from our own source and transforms the world we live in.

This enables us to create meaningful and lasting shifts in our individual consciousness, as well as the collective whole.  And that’s a guideline I can get behind.  This kind of radical and potentially global shift is what interests me most about yoga.

This brings me to my favorite definition of Ahimsa, which is “a love embracing all creation.”

Hmm….sounds a lot like another “guideline” that begins a set of principles we Anusara yogis know and love, which is Opening to Grace.  We begin, every time we come to our mats, with this principle because it sets up a holistic foundation for the overall wellness and healing of our yoga practice.  Opening to Grace offers us the reminder that when in doubt, the most healthy practice we can engage in is to just simply breathe.  To not only cleanse our bodies, but to refresh our minds and to physically keep our hearts healthy by continuing the flow of oxygen throughout the system of our bodies.

In the simplest way, Opening to Grace asks us to believe that not only is healing possible, but likely, because we exist in a space in which there is a love that embraces all creation.  It surrounds us, moves through us, pulls us into being, into relationship, into our universally connected hearts.

Like Opening to Grace, Ahimsa reminds us that we are interconnected.  That what we do to and for ourselves impacts every other person alive, whether we are conscious of it or not.

So rather than simply limiting yourself to not being harmful, can you practice health?

In what ways will you live an ahimsic life by establishing the holistic foundation for your own wellness and the wellness of the planet?

Your challenge this week is to commit to one practice that is by nature, Ahimsic.  This can be anything…any act that is healing or healthy for you; something that nourishes mind, body or soul.

Need some suggestions?:

~Take a hike.  Literally.  Bring your dog, a friend, a good book, your yoga mat — but acquaint yourself with nature in her most showy and brilliant season.

~Give yourself an earlier bedtime.  Even going to bed 30 minutes earlier can make a difference.  Sleep is healthy!  When you are well rested, you will respond better in crisis, as well as in ordinary life.  Your happiness and sense of peace will spread like wildfire.

~Schedule a massage.  Not a 15 minute chair massage…I’m talking a 90 minute, deep tissue, workin’ on your issues through your muscles massage.  You can thank me later.

~Eat more greens.  In fact, grow your own greens!  It doesn’t get more local than that and everyone can benefit from a little more chlorophyll in their lives!

~In fact, while we’re on the subject of wellness and health, which are near and dear to my heart, eat less processed food, y’all!  Less stuff that comes from a lab.  Eat more food that is local and seasonal.  The kinder you are to your body, the more the earth will benefit.

~Finally, an article in the NY Times yesterday said that one of the essential elements connected to longevity is MINDFULNESS!  So finding ways to incorporate a conscientious attitude into every day life is not only healthy, but could lead to a longer, happier, satisfying life!

So how will you create healing in your life that inspires wellness in others?

See you next week for Satya…

Awesome Freebie Name

Problem freebie solves