Bring Ahimsa to the mat

Last post I touched on the yama ahimsa, non-harming. The yamas and niyamas are part of the yogic eightfold path that help us to live an ethical and spiritual life. Yamas are the restraints we intentionally place on our behavior, while the niyamas relate to our purposeful actions. I wanted to say a little about practicing ahimsa on the mat.
There is a natural human tendency to be competitive in just about all we do. One of my sons, who is a distance runner, has asked his wife after she attends a yoga class “did you win”?. A perfect example of how this competitive attitude creeps into everything. Competition, by its nature, encourages the individual to push, try harder, maybe even force yourself to ignore injury. This pushing and forcing requires initially that we acknowledge that what we are doing isn’t necessarily the best thing for our bodies. This is about our ego. Leaving our ego at the door as we enter the practice space, along with any worries or concerns from the day, can help us begin to see ahimsa as part of our growth with yoga.
Ahimsa on the mat is about letting go of ego and finding compassion for ourself thru our physical practice. Take the body awareness that is part and parcel of competition (“ignore the pain, keep on running”) and turn it toward an awareness of feeling our practice (” I am gaining stability and strength”). As Ananda yoga tradition says,” Effort in the midst of relaxation” is a good goal for each time we step on the mat.
Step on the mat with us on Monday nite January 10th from 6:30-8:00pm at the UU Church of Fresno on Alluvial Ave. in Clovis. Its a great place to begin your yogic journey.

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