“A human being is part of a whole called by us ‘the universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
∞ Albert Einstein
Ahimsa in Sanskrit
I have decided to make my online presence part of my (and our) weekly routine. Every week you can come and check out our theme and review of the asana that we covered. Also find some suggested reading.
Firstly, I would like to break down our fall curriculum. That is, the ideas behind our themes and practices for the season. As our physiology changes with our hatha yoga practice we become more mindful. This mindfulness brings a heightened awareness of our physical, mental, and spiritual “situations.” We begin to see and experience the stillness, as well as the fluctuations, of the mind (Chitta-vritti-nirodhah). We can use this “awareness” to notice our negative habits (samsara/advidya), the actions we cling to, or thoughts that do not serve us.
Yoga is a practice of observing, feeling, then acting according to our CHOICE. The better we get at being comfortable with the uncomfortable (physical/mental situations) the easier it becomes to make the right choice. Finding more freedom or space (sukha) in all aspects of our life WILL help to shine light on our negative tendencies (samsara) which have a negative result of suffering (dukha).
To live out yoga practice fully, we should strive to find connection between our practice on the mat (asana), our family life, our communities, and the natural world we are all part of. In other words, how we interact with the world. The goal of the fall curriculum is not to dwell on the past or future, but live and cherish the present moment.
So as we begin to see the choices in out practices we will start to explore the Yamas as taught in Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The Yamas are ethical guidelines to incorporate into our lives. Traditionally the yamas are the starting point for any yoga practice. We need to practice being a good person right from the start.
Week of October 1st – 7th
Ahimsa – Non Harming/Non Violence
Ahimsa : is a term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa). The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence.
It is an important tenet of some Indian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism). Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals; it respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected. Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi strongly believed in this principle. Avoidance of verbal and physical violence is also a part of this principle, although ahimsa recognizes self-defense when necessary, as a sign of a strong spirit. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.
Ahimsa, rather than being a negative command not to kill or be violent, has a wider positive meaning, which is LOVE. This love embraces all creations in the universe (spanda) as we are all interconnected.
Violence arises out of fear, weakness, ignorance (advidya), and restlessness. We take to violence to protect our interests, our bodies, loved ones, property and dignity. We forget often that violence is a state of mind, or a habitual action (samsara). So rather than fight fire with fire (violence with violence) we should cultivate love and compassion towards our bodies, relationships, environment, as well considering the impact or result of our actions.
Much like the pause after a deep breath in asana where we gauge the next step or action in our practice, we aim to use the same mindfulness in our decisions off the mat. This awareness during asana of movements and actions can help us reflect upon reactions to all situations and sensations. When practicing the yamas it is important to notice our viewpoints/habits, pause and reflect then respond with a choice full of love, compassion and non-harming action. This is Ahimsa.
References and Contining Studies:
- Yoga For A World Out Of Balance – Michael Stone
- Light On Yoga –B.K.S. Iyengar
- The Heart Of Yoga T.K.V. Desikachar
Week One will focus on hips and forward folds with the peak poses being Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana (pigeon pose) and Pachimottanasana (seated forward bend/west stretching pose). Also focusing class on the Prana Vayu and the Apana Vayu. Vayus are the winds of the body, or how energy moves through us. Prana, being the lifting upwards or lightness, and apana being the ground actions.
- Hip Circles > Setu Bhanda (bridge) > Supta Padagustasana (enter with tailbone tucking with hips lifted)
- 2 knee twists with shoulder opening > Gomukasana shoulder opener
- Cat/Cow > Down Dog prep > Down dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Surya Namaskar mindfully (sun salutations)
- Dolphin with hands clasped > Headstand prep (feel safety with forearms)
- Prasarita Padottanasan (wide legged forward bend) > Virabhadrasana 2 (war 2) > Parsvakonasana (Side angle) > Trikonasana with no arms (triangle)
- Eka Rajakapotanasana (king pigeon pose)
- Pachimottansana (seated forward bend)
- Incline plane
- Setu Bhanda (bridge)
- Open practice to release
Note that rarely do I teach exactly what I have planned. So classes will vary.
Click HERE for the playlist link
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi