What is Yoga??

What is yoga?.... Yoga is about the postures or asanas and stretching and feeling calmed and relaxed for many of us. Right?

But it also has a set of concepts, guidelines or principles to help us navigate our lives personally and interpersonally. The postures were designed as a way to prepare the mind for embodying the concepts.

For today, I’d like to introduce you to the phrase nonviolence, nonharming, or ahimsa as its translated in Sanskrit which is an ancient language of India. Ahimsa, or nonviolence, is the foundation of which all the yoga concepts could rest on. It means kindness to ourselves and others. As Martin Luther King said, “Nonviolence means not only avoiding external physical violence but also internal violence to spirit.” When we look at our lives it wont take long to tune into times when we were less than kind to ourselves, or maybe to others. The antidote to this human tendency is compassion, kindness, or ahimsa. Just like on an airplane, before we can provide oxygen to others we are supposed to take some ourselves. So is the same with compassion. First offering ourselves compassion and then we are better and more effectively able to offer it to others. This does not come naturally to us. Most of us were taught the opposite so this goes against our current nature. Because of this it takes a while to learn to recognize when we’re being unkind to ourselves and then some skill at weeding out those thoughts. Have you ever caught yourself saying I cant do this, or they wont like me, I’m not good enough and the list goes on. We say these phrases in our heads consciously and unconsciously and they have an effect on our minds and bodies. Train your mind gently and lovingly as you would train a small child who simply does not know how. I invite you today to practice ahimsa to yourself in your practice today. Observe where your limits are in poses without predetermining where you think they should be, were yesterday, or would like them to be, simply explore and notice. Then back away a little, breathe, and see what opens up for you. You may want to offer yourself compassion during your practice by reciting some simple phrases like these:

“May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I feel safe, may I be free.”

Offering lovingkindness to you. Namaste.

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