Yoga is a funny thing. Here in the Western world, we largely practice only one small piece of the yoga puzzle: Asana (poses). However, yoga is really an 8-faceted path, as taught by yogi sage Patanjali sometime around the second century in an important collection of verses called the Yoga Sutras.
Asana is the third facet of yoga; the first is Yama. There are five Yamas, and together, they are said to reveal our true nature as individuals. So, the first of the Yamas is Ahimsa (and yep, I'm pretty much done with the yoga sanskrit speak, but I'm setting the stage here, so bear with me for a sec). In order to move through the Yamas, you've got to get Ahimsa set first, so it's a biggie.
The meaning of Ahimsa is translated as "do no harm." Think of it like you would The Golden Rule. Treat others with reverence and love and strive to find a sense of "oneness" with each other. We are not living in times that make this easier......so all the better to begin to employ it, right? Right.
Love your enemies.
And don't forget that this also refers to how we treat ourselves.
Ahimsa also reminds us to be gentle with each other, with ourselves, in how we move, and in how we handle objects.
To practice Ahimsa, I've put together a sequence that will help to instill inner peace. Once you feel that sense of peace, you will be ready to work on Ahimsa in your life.
A Yoga Sequence for Inner Peace
Begin in Easy Pose - Find a good foundation with the ground and allow your spine to rise strong, keeping shoulders relaxed and positioned over the hips. Chin is level with the ground. Find comfort in the pose and make it your own version.
Take 5 - 10 deep, slow breaths, focusing on the breath moving a ball of light down to the base of your belly on the exhales and raising up to your heart on the inhales. Continue to breathe in this way for each of the following poses. Attempt to move with grace and without hurry.
Low Lunge - Front knee is behind ankle and front foot firmly pressing into the ground. Back knee down (with a cushion if necessary) and top of back foot pressing into the ground. Pelvis is neutral (not tipped). You may lean your hips forward for an additional stretch.
Low Lunge Twist - Exhale to twist at the naval toward the front thigh. Open your heart (keep your shoulders back, sending shoulder blades toward each other). Inhale back to center.
Half Splits - Sit hips back toward back heel. Flex front foot and intend to straighten the front leg. Send heart forward so as not to hunch the shoulders. Look forward.
Intense Stretch - Take Warrior 1 feet (front foot toes forward and back foot toes out at a 45 degree angle). Hinge at the hips to come forward. Belly goes toward the front thigh (instead of nose toward knee). Look straight down.
Mountain Pose - One of the most important poses in all of yoga. Feet firmly planted, parallel, and hip distance apart. Knees lifted but not locked. Pelvis neutral (no tipping). Shoulders over hips and relaxed. Chin level with the ground. Palms forward and arms strong without locking elbows. A pose of strength.
Repeat this Sequence by beginning with the opposite foot forward in Low Lunge
End in Easy Pose, inviting the ball of light to extend to your limbs and head as you finish with 5 - 10 deep, slow breaths.
There! Now don't you feel full of inner peace and ready to get out there and get your Ahimsa on? I thought so!
Have an inspired week, my friends. Next week's post is (of course) devoted to Gratitude with poses to get you ready for Thanksgiving. See you then!
P.S. Sending healing thought to Paris on this one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place there. xo