“When he sees all beings as equals in suffering or in joy because they are like himself, that man has grown perfect in yoga.”

                  – Bhagavad Gita

 

 

As we welcome in the new year, we invite you to let go of the past, to let go of your fears, your misperceptions and embrace this new year with love! Ahimsa is the practice of love.  It is the first yama (restraints) of the yoga sutras and it is considered to be the foundation of any yoga practice, including the practice of asana, the remaining yamas and niyamas (daily practices).

 

Ahimsa is not just loving our parents, partners, children and pets- it is the love for all beings, the person crossing queens boulevard with us, the person sitting next to us on the train, the person behind the counter helping us, all animals, our planet!

 

“Got it! I haven’t been outwardly mean nor violent to anyone..maybe in years- I saved my dog from an animal shelter, I volunteer my time to those less fortunate and i recycle- I got this one locked down! Yet, there always seems to be a catch…” Well, yeah, it goes a bit deeper than that, violence is not just physical. The practice of ahimsa is to move with awareness and cease violence towards all beings and the world by purifying not only our actions, but our words and thoughts as well.

 

As history shows us, we live in an intrinsically violent world, we are violent beings. We have all suffered by the hand of another, by their words or actions. We have all personally hurt others, caused hurt through another or approved violence upon another. We have all hurt ourselves by our lack of belief in our abilities. We have all felt pain and the time it takes to heal, if ever! Every time we turn on the TV, tap on our phones or open up a newspaper we are bombarded by images of violence, so often towards innocent people that we become overwhelmed by this negativity.

 

So what do we do? Can any of us really follow in the footsteps of Gandhi, Jesus or Martin Luther King, Jr. and turn the other cheek? Or in the footsteps of Buddha and “Love all? ” Maybe we can start with Bob Marley and simply ask ourselves “could you be love and be loved?”  Maybe we begin with simple awareness of our thoughts and words for just one day. Maybe we dedicate one day to just ourselves. How often are we frustrated with ourselves, barely showing ourselves forgiveness or compassion? In how many ways do we hurt ourselves by not being moderate in our actions, by stealing moments from ourselves, by not believing we are enough? How can we ever truly love others when we show such little love towards ourselves?

 

Lets spend a day observing our actions, thoughts and words towards others. How tolerant are we truly when we are in a rush? How mean can we be to others after a conflict with our boss, partner, or anyone? What would happen if we accepted responsibility for our feelings and stopped the cycles of violence?

 

With all the anger and violence surrounding us, our responsibilities lie in changing our lives and the impact that our lives have upon others. So, like everything else in our yoga practice, we begin in awareness. I do not want to begin a discussion on veganism or vegetarianism, but I would ask you to be conscious of what is on your plate, where it came from and what it went through to finally get there. Try to stop being involved in gossip, petty commentary regarding anothers appearance and speaking ill of others. When encountering those that are different than you, cultivate empathy and allow yourself to be open to a new learning experience. When you have negative thoughts towards others, instead of harboring this negativity, begin to look within and get at the root of those feelings- usually its caused by jealousy, fear or insecurity. Be mindful in your asana practice; instead of seeing it as a competition, cultivate patience, dedication and never push to the point where you hurt yourself.

 

Please remember that we are human and just like any practice we embark upon, we will falter. In those times, simply note your reaction. After awhile you will realize that you have begun to cultivate a different attitude, that you do unto others as you would have others do unto you, your parents, children, sibling and friends (including your pets!).

 

When we begin to see that there is no difference between you and me, no difference between you and all other beings, then we begin to see ourselves in all living beings and we begin develop compassion. The yoga sutra state “when nonviolence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.”  Ahimsa is the understanding that what goes around comes around. Ahimsa is compassion, it is love, it is the recognition of the underlying unity of all life.

As you enter into the new year, we invite you to leap in with love, with compassion, with awareness and with grace.

 

We wish you and yours peace, health and prosperity in
every way through 2018!

 

Om Shanti,

Living Yoga Staff

kadia