Earlier this year I found myself in a great conflict, in a type of depression that I did not think I would be able to get out of. This has been a very stressful year for so many and most of us are just trying to get by and figure out a way to make the best of it. What pulled me out of my funk and brought me back to accepting this reality and shifting the focus inward, was my studies on The Eight Limbs of Yoga. These steps can be interpreted in various ways to fit your life, to give you a goal and something to look forward to! The Eight Limbs of Yoga are essential guidelines or commandments that push us towards self enlightenment. The first limb in this path is called the Yamas; the relationship with ourselves and others and how we see or interpret them. We begin this journey with testing our boundaries and ability to shift towards a more positive and purposeful life. The Yamas are composed of five smaller limbs, the first one being Ahimsa. The act of Ahimsa is taking the path of nonviolence towards others, the self and in our daily activities!
The relationships that we create with others are usually based on first impressions, we’ve all heard the expression “you never get the second chance to make the first impression.” Is this expression fair to the person receiving the judgement? In practicing Ahimsa we are easing up that pressure that we put on other people, that need to gossip, judge, or physically injure someone. This can also be interpreted as road rage or emotionally dumping on friends without checking in to see if they are emotionally ready. Ahimsa directs the attention towards giving others the benefit of the doubt sometimes, not everyone is always having a perfect day and sometimes that can reflect on their appearance. This limb is our personal interpretation of our relationships and noticing what we are placing our energy towards, and if we are constantly making snarky comments about someone, then we are putting our energy in a negative space.
The relationship that we create with ourselves is the most important connection that we will ever experience. I am guilty of creating a toxic relationship with myself and it can be really easy to allow yourself to slip away and begin to stop trusting your instincts! Changing how your inner voice talks to you is the first step in learning to trust yourself and grow as a person. No one wants an inner voice that is constantly telling you all of your biggest insecurities. So many of us are guilty of even insulting ourselves outoud, have you ever said “ I don’t know why I did that, I’m so dumb?” Are you actually dumb? Or did you make a simple mistake? Changing that self deprecating tone will create a positive shift in how you think about yourself!
Practicing Ahimsa is more than just the verbal communication between ourselves and others, it can also be broken down into how we take care of ourselves. Creating a healthy diet, one that does not cause harm to your personal body or harm towards others is one way we can put this limb into place. Another way would be to take care of your outer shell! Wear sunscreen, create a skin care routine that helps prevent outward harm, exercise, meditate- Fuel your body with what it needs in order to feel content in this life. When you practice yoga, don’t try to go 1000% all of the time, listen to your body and see if you are causing more tension or creating ease. If you leave yoga feeling more stressed than when you stepped on your mat, something is out of balance. Ahimsa is the practice of nonviolence, on your mat and off of your mat, with yourself and with others, this is the first leap into the path of self enlightenment. Set your intention to Ahimsa today, let that intention shift the focus and guide you towards a more positive life.