Updated: Mar 31
We all deserve to be well, and through this platform I hope to offer everyone some tools to cultivate a greater sense of wellbeing.
Yoga surpasses the physical asana practice that is done on the mat. Many people only associate yoga as physical exercise and are completely unaware of the philosophy that underpins it. I aim to appreciate and amplify the voice of its origins and so over the next few weeks the focus of the class will be on the "Yamas" and "Niyamas".
We can think of the Niyamas and Yamas as a spiritual guiding force. In simple terms, the Yamas mean restraint and are what not to do, and the Niyamas are practices or observations. There are five Yamas and five Niyamas in total. Whether you’re religious or not, many of these principles we have all grown up with. They all better help us navigate our experience of the world both internally and externally.
Over the next week I will be looking at Ahimsa which is the first Yama.
Ahimsa means "non violence" and whilst I like to assume you aren't a serial killer, we can all get caught up in "violent" ways of thinking and being. Do you like to gossip? Do you max out at every workout even when you're ill? Are you self critical? If you are then its likely you are not following this first Yama.
I personally like to view this as compassion, when we are being compassionate towards ourselves then we are leading from our hearts. We do not make decisions based on societal expectations or obligations. When we give because we feel we "should" or "have to", we do not set appropriate boundaries and are being "violent" towards ourselves. Feelings such as disappointment, guilt, shame, comparison are all ahimsic.
In your asana practice, do you compare? Do you push into pain? Are you so caught up in what you can't do rather than what you can? the principle of Ahimsa in our yoga practice offers us greater mind and body connection. We turn up every day with a different mood in both our body and our mind so perhaps try taking some time to notice what thoughts come up, where they wonder.. both on and off the mat.
Mindfulness: its easy to let feelings sweep you into a tornado of negativity, try not to over-identify with the emotions. Noticing is the first step. When a thought arises just let it be, don't push it away. It might be difficult, but its valid and it might give you insight into an area that needs a little more TLC or Ahimsa
"Should-ing": You have the power to curate your life. Do you constantly feel depleted, obliged to do things and saying "I should", or "I must". Do you base this on cultural or societal expectations? Write a list of all your "should's" and "musts's" and see if they really are that important
Body-Mind: Your body and mind are connected, and what ever emotions you are feeling they will hold themselves within you physically. Get to your class early, or perhaps in the morning try and tune into any discomfort, pain or even lightness you feel. Use this to identify what you need from the day.
I look forward exploring this more with you all!