On my Yoga tab I talk a little bit about a book I bought that inspired me to share with others what I’ve been discovering about yoga and how it can be taken off the mat and into my everyday life. There is also a picture there of the eight-limb path of yoga. I truly encourage you to buy this book and read it with me. There is no way I can give you every quote that resonated with me without just re-writing the book. By all means, feel free to comment with any feedback.
For newbies, yoga is a form of exercise and they are right. For advanced yogis, it is a way of life, they are also right. Before I get into the good stuff, I’d like to share a quote from the book’s introduction. “A Course in Miracles says, ‘To teach is to demonstrate.’ As far as I can tell, the only thing worth demonstrating is love.” This is something I have to remind myself of everyday because it is easier said than done. In our own way we are all teachers and I really think Mr. Gates is right. Just a little something to ponder. . .
On to the juicy stuff. You should be aware that yoga is much older than most religions today. The Yoga Sutras were written by Patanjali between 500 and 200 B.C. Something to remember is that yoga is not a religion but a philosophy. Because of this, nothing in yoga contradicts any religion and can be practiced in conjunction to your belief system. Gates says, “It is the aim of all spiritual seeking to bring us home, home to the understanding that we already have everything we need.”
The first limb of the eight is The Yamas or The Five Moral Restraints but Yamas is much easier to spit out. Again, you can look at the picture of it for all of you visual people or here in words. They are Ahimsa (nonviolence/non-harming), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacarya (moderation), and Aparigraha (non-hoarding).
Ahimsa or nonviolence is not as simple as it sounds. For most of us, we’ve been told our whole lives to play nice and not hurt anyone. Ahimsa goes farther than that. It means to not hurt anyone or anything. This can mean something different to everyone. It could mean going vegan or maybe just making sure your eggs come from free-range chickens. It could mean buying an electric car or maybe just taking the bus. It’s all about baby steps, right?
The thing that, in my opinion, most people miss about ahimsa is that you must take care of yourself first. So this not only means non-harming to others but also non-harming to yourself. We are our worst critics. This is not okay. It’s another thing that is easier said than done, don’t you think? How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought how much you hate that one part that isn’t perfect? I’ve done it too many times to count.
It’s time for us to break that cycle. We need baby steps though. So here’s what I’m doing. I find something I do like about myself when I look in the mirror. Everyday, I try to find something new. There is nothing easy about this process but I find the more I do it, the easier it is. I’m hopeful that I will come to a point where I truly love every bit of myself, inside and out.
I’ve also worked on ahimsa while on the mat. I should tell you that I used to be a gymnast and a dancer and as such yoga has come very naturally to me. This certainly doesn’t make it easy and I’m learning that as I get older and my body changes, it just can’t do what it used to. This is a frustrating thing for anybody. Pushing myself to the point where it hurts is not the answer. It’s something to remember for any activity. You have to pay attention to your body and not hurt yourself.
It amazes me how much more we criticze and ask of ourselves when we wouldn’t ever think to do it to someone else. This truly is the most difficult part of ahimsa to adhere to, at least for me anyway. Until next time. . .
In light and love,