We teach the eight limbs of Patanjali’s limbs of yoga to the students in the Foundation series.
This beginners course runs for eight weeks and is the perfect opportunity to chat about the eight limbs, as part of their introduction to yoga: the steps Patanjali wrote about to reach Samadhi or enlightenment.
Ahimsa, one of the limbs been on my mind lately – and by on my mind, I mean: can’t think of anything else.
Ahimsa means non-harm.
Simple enough, right?
Except, no. Ahimsa is a term that can refer to how you treat yourself and others, which makes it a hell of a lot more complex than it seems.
Lying, yes. Stealing, yes. Being unkind, yes.
Cutting yourself, yes that is not ahimsa. Overdosing on your drug of choice, yes – that too. Working in a toxic environment, yes!
Overeating? Belittling your body? Not showing up for your own health? Keeping company that isn’t supportive and encouraging – that isn’t okay either.
Us lying about all of these little things to ourselves, that’s one of the other limbs, called Satya. This refers to the truth. Patanjali apparently knew modern society way better than we know ourselves. There truly is nothing new under the sun. New world, old problems.
We are made as a whole, and yes, none of us are perfectly balanced all the time, that’s why yoga.
We practice: we practice our reactions, we practice our self-talk, we practice listening actively and recognizing when something isn’t okay anymore. We practice listening to our bodies, because they seem to know when something is wrong long before our minds do.
We practice this, because we’re human.
But we also practice BEING okay: we practice making better choices and listening and actively, every single day making choices that help and not hurt us (or anyone else).
That, is ahimsa.
by Nelet Kok (Yogini, Yoga Teacher and friend to Pure Peace Yoga)