The Yamas In Practice: Living with Ahimsa

Recent events in my life have found the image of the hamsa forming in my mind where the visual presence is so clear and exact, somehow offering comfort in troubled times. But this blog is not necessarily about the hamsa rather how the events that brought forward this image have formed into the sound vibration of the first Yama of Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras which is Ahimsa.

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Not that I am trying to confuse you, rather invite you into a state where you may recognize a similar conflict going on in your life and perhaps this may help you to find peace of mind. We all have life experiences that affect us in different ways, but we have this wonderful practice of yoga that connects us and through this awareness to also offer healing.

The image of the hamsa appears as a hand with an all seeing eye, is a basic symbol of protection used by many faiths. A simple Google search would reveal the MANY artistic interpretations of the image which has always attracted me. As this conflict evolved and peaked the image of the hand would appear as if to say "stop" or "take pause", but not in a harsh way, rather an invitation to reflect to see what was really going on.

And this is where Ahimsa began calling to me; the first of five Yamas (or outward restraints) comes from Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali and guides us to a place of non-violence. Begin by first recognizing acts of non-violence, actions which you may observe in others and recognize the times when you offer support and compassion to yourself and to others. Thoughts send powerful energy, so begin by thinking kind words to others, connect to being mindful. There is a gift in finding compassion, recognizing it for what it is, inviting this open heart into all that we do, all that we say and think, regardless of the circumstances.

Is this easy? No, but single-legged dead lifts were next to impossible for me a few months ago, however, through practice, discipline and and lots of self-compassion, they are much easier than ever. Where there was physical weakness, strength and balance are returning not only in my physical self but my awareness of what a yoga practice means.

Physical shapes in yoga (asana) can sometimes be easy, can be challenging. The same goes for the power, the strength and the flexibility of the mind. Be open to awareness, release fear and anger, anxiety and depression, invite Ahimsa into you being.

-Peace and Blessings to all