Now that we have built our foundation for a steady yoga practice, we are ready to begin supporting our practice so that we can keep it going. In my experience, I have found that the best way to keep a steady practice is to form balance. Balance teaches us to be moderate and achieve evenness – it keeps you upright and steady. And, in order to form balance you need to establish pillars to hold up your practice. We will begin with the yamas and the niyamas. These are the yogic branches of abstentions and observances that can stabilize your asana practice.
The first yama is ahimsa which is the Sanskrit word for non-violence. The obvious definition for non-violence is to do no physical harm onto others. However, ahimsa goes way beyond the obvious. It’s important to recognize that when you practice ahimsa, you are pledging to do no harm in deed, word or thought. It is fairly obvious that violent actions and words can cause damage and we must refrain from these behaviors. However, it is our thoughts that can be the most harmful and the most difficult to regulate.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
Within your practice this week, attempt to be more harmonious in your thoughts. Here are some methods that I use to find peace and prevent agitation on my mat:
- Set up a place for practice where you will have no interruptions (and that includes cell phone and computer dings, chimes and rings).
- Begin your practice by honoring one of your virtues with a silent expression of gratitude in anjali mudra.
- Use an eye bag during Savasana. This will help to eliminate visual disruptions and maintain your peacefulness.
You must honor yourself first. Eliminating harmful self-thoughts and reducing your own agitation will lead you to think more respectfully of others. This will swiftly and surely bring increased happiness and pleasure to your life.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti