Ahimsa: The first of the Yamas

Yoga is so much more than just the asana or posture we practice in the studio. All in all, its built of 8-limbs the very first being the Yamas. Within this limb of yoga are 5 principles or tools to help use live to our fullest potential. The first being, Ahimsa or kindness to self and kindness to others. It’s also translated as being non-violent.

In This is That, one of our reading materials for the 200-hour yoga teacher training at Ohana, Anand Mehrotra says this about Ahimsa, “As Yogis we want to practice non-violence in our actions, in our thoughts, in our belief system, in our identity, because if we are bound by any identity, then we are contributing to violence. Being away of what we do, being a witness to our behavior, we learn to observe and see if the behavior is arising from ego. Because ego is always a state of violence. Why? Because ego fundamentally exists in a state of fear.

Ahimsa therefore isn’t just about not hitting your brother (as our mothers used to say) but also about detaching from labels and boundaries that keep us from fully being free. Ahimsa is not just about being kind to our neighbors and helping to set them free but also about being kind to ourselves and setting our own selves free. In many ways, it’s similar to the South African phrase “Ubuntu,” meaning our liberties are bound together. Kindness to you, kindness to self, that is Ahimsa.

Reace Daniel teaches a beautiful Yoga FLOW class with Ahimsa as the focus of this class. Check out his intro and breakdown of Ahimsa and then find his class here to experience the full flow!