Ahimsa on & off the mat

Ahimsa or non-violence might seem like a fairly self-explanatory concept, but there’s more to this yogic practice than meets the eye. This is because ahimsa applies not only in a physical sense, but verbally and emotionally, too, as well as on and off the mat.

A non-violent practice

As you may already know, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras there are eight limbs of yoga, one of which is the yamas. These are five ethical and moral guidelines for living a spiritual life, the first of which is the practice of non-violence, or ahimsa in Sanskrit.

Chances are when most of us hear the idea of non-violence we think along the lines of do no harm, don’t use force or non-aggression — things we like to think we practise naturally already. And chances are you do, in some form. However, there is a lot more to ahimsa than the physical and literal violence that the term implies, and as with many of the other yamas, the practice of ahimsa focuses on both the way we conduct ourselves and our relationships with others.

By momentarily putting aside the physical aspect, you start to think about the other forms of (violence) you might express or encounter. For instance, those bouts of road rage and mutterings about that not-so-favourite neighbour —

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