Why are you drawn to practice yoga? The first few times you unroll a yoga mat you might think it is all about learning how to do Downward Facing Dog or perfect your Warrior II. Maybe you just showed up for the neck rub at the very end. After ten years of practicing yoga I sometimes feel like I am still reading page one of a thousand page book. I teach at a teaching studio: we do teaching training's and workshops that go beyond the poses. Over the next few months, I have decided to begin to scratch the surface of the Yamas and Niyamas in my class starting with the first Yama, Ahimsa.
So way back in the day (think over one thousand years ago), this really hip guy named Patanjali was a sage (someone who has obtained wisdom) in India. He is the man who is credited with starting this whole thing we call Yoga.
To simplify things, Patanjali basically wrote down in the Yoga Sutras that there are eight limbs or steps to living a purposeful and meaningful life. These steps are guidelines to how we should live our life.
The eight steps are:
Asana-Care of the physical body
Samadhi-Spirituality or Bliss
The Yamas and Niyamas are broken down into five categories each. These are:
Okie dokie, we are all caught up right? So, now on to Ahimsa, nonviolence.
If you are interested in diving really deep into the Yamas and Niyamas, I highly recommend Deborah Adele's The Yamas & Niyamas.
Adele says our capacity to be nonviolent depends on our proactive practice of courage, balance, love of self, and compassion for others. Sounds easy right? I thought so too. I was positive I was living my life with ahimsa but as I wrote out my classes and most of all when I started teaching the classes with ahimsa as the main theme I started down this really hard path of self discovery. There were little ways in which I was creating violence in my little bubble. Self doubt was a big one as well as creating balance. With baby on the way I have all these to do lists on top of working part time and teaching yoga. I feel my self doubt was tied with the lack of balance. I used overextending myself as a tool to block out any worries I was having instead of processing them. Someone looked at me the wrong way in class??? Answer, craft a baby mobile! Am I still going to be myself and an adult or am I going to be absorbed in the role of mother? Answer, read more baby books!
Thankfully, second trimester Laura had the wisdom to start cutting back on her teaching schedule (third trimester Laura is already planning new classes to add for fall!). Letting go of classes, obligations, and projects around the house is one way I am practicing Ahimsa. I am giving myself permission to sit outside and read a non-baby book. If I get cranky, I give myself permission to take a nap.
This is not easy to talk about or work through. I want to hold back and I sometimes still do. I find it absolutely terrifying and uncomfortable to teach this and most of all talk about it in the context of my life. I have find that ultimately you need to practice being kind to yourself!