Practicing Ahimsa. Non-Violence.
The First of the Five Yamas

By Ellen Sundell


“The gentlest thing in the world overcomes the hardest thing in the world. That which has no substance enters where there is no space. This shows the value of non-action. Teaching without words, performing without actions, that is the master’s way.” –Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

When we truly and fully “practice yoga”, we are aware of- and inspired by learning more deeply about–and by our living of–the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

The first limb of yoga is Yama (there are five yamas), which are the “Restraints” or the “Do Nots” of Yoga. The second limb of yoga is Niyama (there are five niyamas), which are the “Internal Observances” of Yoga. The third limb of yoga is Asana, or the “Physical Postures” of Yoga. The fourth limb of yoga is Pranayama, the breath-work or “Life Force” of Yoga. The fifth limb of yoga is Pratyahara, which is “Withdrawal of Senses” or internal reflection of Yoga. The sixth limb of yoga is Dharana, the “External Concentration” on a single point in Yoga. The seventh limb of yoga is Dhyana, the “Meditation” or internal concentration in Yoga. The eighth limb of yoga is Samadhi, which is the “Divine Oneness” we attain in practicing our Yoga. We begin with The Yamas, with Ahimsa…


Ahimsa. Non-Violence.
The First of the Five Yamas…


“Get out of your head and into your heart. Love unconditionally! Embody your soul.” –Ram Dass

Ahimsa means to live in kindness, to do no harm to anyone including our own self, it means self-love, self-acceptance.

Living ahimsa means living in balance with one’s self; neither living in self-sacrifice nor living in self-aggrandizement (or ego), rather living in respect with self and respect with all. Ahimsa is to give ourself the quiet and peace our spirit needs to find balance, courage, understanding, wholeness, love.

Ahimsa is to act in courage rather than act in fear, to be willing to live in the moment and to learn the moment’s lesson.

Ahimsa can mean that we learn to forgive ourself, that we learn to forgive others, for our own peace and for peace with others, so that we may see their beauty, their humor, their gift to us, our lesson.

Ahimsa can mean taking loving action toward peace. Ahimsa means to find compassion, to learn to find respect for that which we may not yet understand, to move beyond judgment, allowing us to learn, allowing us to take action toward love, toward peace, for ourself and for others.

“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the highest light in my heart; I salute that light in you. Let us work together for unity and love.” –Ghandi

Namaste friends,
Resource: The Yamas & Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice (by Deborah Adele)