October: Ahimsa – non violence, non harming
When you think about yoga, you probably envision a physical practice of various poses. While this is a part of yoga, there is much more to discover through the ethical and philosophical realms of the practice. The Yamas and Niyamas are foundational to yogic thought and can be thought of as ethical guidelines and/or literally a way of living. You can think of the Yamas and Niyamas as jewels of wisdom that give direction to a well-lived and joyful life.
The Yamas are five “restraints” that guide us in a relationship with the external world. They help us choose actions, words, and thoughts in a way that nurtures our relationships with the world.
Ahimsa – Nonviolence
October starts our journey through these teachings with Ahimsa, which literally means “do not harm”. The first thing most people think when they hear nonviolence is that it’s about physical violence. Ahimsa also includes nonviolence in thoughts and words.
When we get into a state of feeling hurried, afraid, powerless, or out of balance, we may find ourselves speaking words of unkindness or even exploding in a voice of violence. With awareness of this, we learn that our ability to be nonviolent to others is directly related to our ability to be nonviolent within ourselves. How we treat ourselves is often how we treat those around us. Our inner strength and character determine our ability to be a person of peace within ourselves and in the world.
Our intention for the month is to reclaim large areas of peace within ourselves and to reflect that towards others. The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our world.
Week One: Practice courage. Do one thing daily that you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re feeling brave, do something that scares you and get excited about the fact that you’re doing it! See if you can discern the difference between fear and discomfort. See what happens with your sense of self and how your relationships with others might be different as a result of stepping into uncharted territory.
Week Two: Take balance into your own hands. Spend the week really listening to what you need to feel balanced. Don’t look strictly from a place in your head, but receive messages from your body. In the moment, do you need sleep? Do you need to eat? Do you need to practice yoga? Do you need time with your spiritual journey? As you respond to what your balance looks like, notice the effects on your life and on others.
Week Three: Pay attention to how you interject yourself into others lives. Are you a worrier? Stressed by nature? Are you a fixer? Know the difference between “helping” and “supporting” and notice if you are avoiding anything in your own life, by being overly interested in others lives.
Week Four: Spend the week telling yourself that you are complete. No judging, no expecting, not needing to criticize or question. You are complete, you don’t need to be anything more than you are. Notice your experience. Notice the pleasure and patience you can experience when you allow yourself to be complete and you do not harm yourself.