In my previous post about Ashtanga, I mentioned that the yogic philosophy recommends the practice of the 8 limbs to overcome suffering.

The first of the 8 limbs is “Yama”. The yamas are 5 moral guidelines to follow, and they are mainly about our interactions with the world around us and ourselves. Let’s dive into it!

Ahimsa – Non violence, non harming

The first yama is the foundation of all the others: non violence. We should cultivate peace, kindness, friendliness towards every living creature and (perhaps even harder) towards ourselves.

Practicing ahimsa means being peaceful in action, speech and thought. We should avoid harbouring any harmful thoughts, speaking in a harmful way and behaving with the intention to cause harm.

Meditation is a great place to notice our harmful thought patterns and, always with self-compassion, see if we can instead cultivate kindness and understanding towards ourselves and others.

Ahimsa on the mat

How can we practice even the most challenging poses from a place of ahimsa? We do yoga because we want to feel good, but sometimes we get hurt, physically or emotionally (who has never had their ego bruised in a yoga class? 😄). Can we become more mindful of this?

My experience with it

I love this yama because it really encompasses all areas of our lives. In my practice, I struggle with it in the form of negative self-talk (such as “I should be more flexible”, “I should be stronger”, “I don’t practice often enough”…) and as a result, I tend to push myself too hard, forget to rest, and sometimes get injured. I’m aware of this now and try to catch myself when it happens, but it’s always a work in progress.

What about you? Is this yama one that you struggle with? Do you have a lot of negative self-talk while you practice? Or is your mat a peaceful place?