Ahimsa & Compassion:  The golden rule of yoga

Ahimsa & Compassion: The golden rule of yoga

by Sadie Leigh Though many of us in the west come to yoga through the physical practice (myself included!), this deep and beautiful tradition goes far beyond the poses. According to the Yoga Sutras, there are eight steps towards attaining bliss, and asana (that’s the Sanskrit word for the poses) is actually the third step! So before you even unroll your mat, you can be practicing yoga through steps one and two, namely the Yamas and Niyamas. The wonderful Juliana will offer a more in depth look at the Yamas and Niyamas in next week’s post, but in brief, these two concepts outline the ethical principles of yoga. And the first of the Yamas is– you guessed it! Ahimsa.   Ahimsa, or nonviolence, being the very first part of the very first step in the practice of yoga is no mistake. My teacher Sri Dharma says that ahimsa is like the umbrella, it covers everything else on the yogic path, so practice compassion and everything else comes automatically. Practicing Ahimsa means practicing nonviolence in your physical actions, your verbal interactions, and even in your internal thoughts. And this approach, this unyielding dedication to compassion, applies to everyone you meet, including yourself. In a studio, or on your mat, this might look like greeting the folks around you as fellow humans as you enter the space. Not judging or comparing anyone in the room. And being very kind and compassionate with yourself as you move through the poses. Maybe you’re trying a new or challenging pose and can quite get it today. Oh well! Practicing Ahimsa with yourself in that...