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Practicing Ahimsa (Non-Violence) On And Off Your Mat

yoga yoga philosophy
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Ahimsa is a yoga philosophy concept that is one of the five Yamas which contribute to Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga. The Yamas are ethical morals and values that are beneficial for our soul.

Ahimsa means non-violence which can be either physically through actions, through thoughts or words.

It can also be directed towards other people, other beings or even ourselves. This is done with the intention that doing so helps us to feel united with the universe so that we will always be compassionate and never feel alone.

Learn how you might practice Ahimsa both on your yoga mat and in your everday life.

Ahimsa on your mat

  • Don't push yourself into poses your body isn't ready to do.
  • Meditation and any practice that helps to calm your mind.
  • Repeat mantras of kindness.
  • Let go any expectations you may have for yourself.
  • Be patient with yourself and your body. Try not to get frustrated if you're not progressing as fast as you would like.

Ahimsa off your mat

  • Be kind to others through kind thoughts, words or actions.
  • Be kind to yourself through thoughts, words or actions.
  • Compliment others.
  • Adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Practice empathy.
  • Eat free range, organic foods.
  • Minimise waste.
  • Get good rest and take the time to do activities that help restore your energy.
  • Practice forgiveness.

Some of the above tasks may be easier than others; just get started by giving a few things a go and know that you don't need to do it all perfectly for it to be beneficial. For example, you might choose to eat vegetarian meals a few days a week rather than fully convert the way that you eat.

Incorporating aspects of yoga philosophy such as ahimsa can bring deeper meaning to your yoga practice and your life. For many yogis, this is an ongoing effort that spans a lifetime, so don't feel that you need to change everything all at once.

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