What is Ahimsa yoga
Ahimsa is one of the eight limb of yoga. The word ahimsa can be broken down into two parts, a means not, himsa means killing or violence. This word has a deeper meaning to it than just non-violence, it also means to embrace every creature and creation of god; harming or killing any creature is an insult to the creator itself. Human beings act violently to protect themselves from danger or to serve their hunger. This does not mean that anybody who is a vegetarian is non violent in nature or is a true yogi, though being vegetarian is the right path to a yogi’s life. Even criminals may be vegetarian, but that does not make them non-violent. Violence dwells in a person mind and nature, not in the diet he consumes nor in the instruments that he holds. For example: A knife that can be used for cutting fruits and vegetables can also be used for harming humans and creatures so the fault is not in the knife but in the owner using it.
What gives rise to himsa (violence)?
Anger can be classified in two ways, one that stoops us and demeans our character and the second that connects us to spirituality. For the first one, a person is blind folded due to his pride and looses the sense to see things correctly. On the other hand, the second type is being firm on oneself when you come across your own faults while still being gentle on others. A yogi feels unhappy with himself when he learns that despite all his efforts and experience, he could not check on himself while acting silly.
Men turn to violence to protect their own world and belongings such as his life, dignity, assets, their family and relations. But a person solely cannot rely on himself to protect himself from any obstacles in his life on which he has no control or power such as natural destruction, if he thinks he has the power to take control over anything, then he is wrong. As there is one greatest power that is above all, our creator therefore he must trust him, it is then that he will become fearless from any evil.
How does ahimsa work?
Violence and fear go hand in hand, violence dwells in the mind out of fear and ignorance. When a person is free from fear, he is free from violence as well. To attain this state of mind, one needs to change his perspective of thinking on life and reverse the direction of mind. When the veil of ignorance and assumption of things is removed then a person learns to trust based on reality and becomes true to himself and others hence violence drops.
Ahimsa in the mind
A real yogi believes that every creature deserves equality in terms of the right to live, the tinniest creature like a bug has the same right to live just like he has. He admires the beauty of all the creation because he knows he is born to assist all of those around him. A yogi is aware that as human beings all of our lives are linked, he is always looking out for ways to help others as that is what that makes him happy. To him others happiness is more significant than his own happiness and he will spread happiness wherever he goes. He considers himself more privileged than people who are unfortunate than him and encourages them by adding a purpose to their lives.
A person demands justice for a wrong done by others and expects forgiveness when he is at fault. On the other hand, a yogi demands justice for others when he is at fault while believes that others should be forgiven for their faults. He acts as a charismatic mentor for others to guide them through the right path of refining themselves.
A yogi wins his battle with love by going against the evil of the sinner while still loving the sinner. We can still oppose the sinful act of a person while loving him. Just like a wife of drug addict loves her husband but can still go against his habit. When we go against someone without any love for that person, that leads to violence on the other hand when we love someone despite going against his evils acts, that is mere ignorance and leads to distress. B.K.S Iyengar explains this in a simple way “a loving mother will sometimes beat her child to cure it of a bad habit; in the same way a true follower of ahimsa loves his opponent”.
How to incorporate ahimsa in yoga?
When you start as a beginner, flexibility does not come to you right away, patience is the key. It can get frustrating for sure but remember ahimsa means embracing all the creation, which includes yourself as well. So you need to be gentle to yourself, non-violence is not only practiced by preventing physical harm but also eliminating mental harm to yourself. When you push your body to the edge in order to achieve flexibility then you are prone to injury causing physical violence to your body. After all no big deal if you can’t do those extra flexible or advanced poses, they are as beneficial as those simple poses. When we stop blaming ourselves and being hard on ourselves due to our higher expectations then our body and mind responds positively too to the asanas and pranayamas. Lets stop judging ourselves instead lets start respecting our abilities and listening to our selves, that way we set ourselves free while we open a new path to learning hence our practice becomes fruitful.
Now back to you, what do you think about ahimsa? have you considered embracing it as part of your yoga practice? Thank you for dropping by.
References and sources that were used is listed below,
B.K.S. Iyengar (The worlds most respected teacher). Light On Yoga: The definitive guide to yoga practice. 1976; 12,13,14