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Ahimsa: Practice Kindness

Ahimsa: Practice Kindness

Kindness is the reason! A universal thread in all yoga practices is learning to embody loving kindness. How you treat yourself has an effect on you and how you treat others has an effect on you. When you are kind, your behavior impacts others around you in a positive manner and helps them feel more content.

Learning to be compassionate and kind regardless of circumstances is one of the key principles of the eight-limbed yoga path, as expressed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Ahimsa, the first of five Yamas contained in the first limb of yoga is at its root is all about kindness. 

Ahimsa translates to the absence of, or the freedom from violence, killing, judging, or harming. Ahimsa is avoiding all forms of violence to yourself or to others. It is less about physical violence and more about thoughts and feelings. 

When you are critical, when you are judgmental, when you are cruel to yourself or to others, you are killing off life force. When your judgment impairs another’s hopes and dreams, you are harming them as concretely as if you had physically struck them. This type of behavior arises from fear, weakness, or ignorance. Doing the internal work to focus on love and step away from fear is vital to embodying kindness. When you practice yoga with the intention to manifest compassion, love, understanding, and patience, you are practicing ahimsa. You are non-harming. 

The Yoga Sutras offer more wisdom in the form of the “Four Infinite Thoughts” in Sutras 1:32-33a. In essence, this guidance offers the belief that there are four locks in our own minds and in the character of other people: happy, unhappy, virtuous and non-virtuous. Patanjali advised: “Befriend the happy; have compassion for the unhappy; delight in the virtuous; be indifferent toward the non-virtuous.”  

In his commentary on Patanjali’s Sutras, Swami Satchidananda called these principles the four keys to contentment: “These four keys should always be with you in your pocket.  If you use the right key with the right person you will retain your peace.  Nothing in the world can upset you then.”  

Basically, this wisdom suggests we be kind and friendly to everyone, regardless of how they treat you. By choosing to be compassionate toward everyone, you elevate yourself out of acting in a harmful manner toward yourself and others. 

Kindness is true strength. This week we bring you classes to help you embody kindness.

Kristen Boyle - Kindness is Strength: Deep Hip Flow

Jeanie Manchester - Bhuvaneshwari Flow: Earth & Sky

Dana Damara - Hearts Wide Open

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