Ahimsa or Non-violence
Ashtanga Yoga came into my life about 5 years ago, while I was in my Yoga Teacher training. At that point, I didn't realize what a profound wisdom and beauty lies underneath the surface of this intense asana practice. Although I didn't start off with daily practice right a way, it changed my life completely. My daughter was only a wee toddler and my son a 3 year old rebel, so I had to find a way to be there for them and be able to do this practice on a regular basis.
I remember stepping into the 'Mysore style' yoga room full of steaming beautiful bodies, the sound of the ocean breath changing it in to a sacred place. This was something special, I knew straight away. Deeply impressed by the sweat and effort shedded by the people present, I committed too in doing my very best. After one month, I hurt myself in a deep twist, so my whole leg had fifty shades of blue. The strong determination to do every pose, had turned itself against me. I hadn't respected the boundaries of my body at that time. Only 4 months later, I had a new injury on my hamstring. This time I was traveling to Bali, joining a workshop with Manju Jois and had very stiff muscles due to traveling.
Although I knew about the Eightfolded Path of Yoga in theory, the practice confronted me with the first of the Yamas( Moral disciplines); Ahimsa or non-violence.
Ahimsa or Non-violence in actions, thoughts and speech, is considered the highest value in Yoga. And there I was, hurting myself time and again on that yogamat. In fact at that time, I was also hurting myself off the mat. Maintaining unhealthy habits like e.g. staying up late and drinking too much alcohol, resulting in negative thoughts about myself and others.
You know, yoga and meditation had been in my life for many years already, but at times I would abandon the practice completely. And yet, I felt Ashtanga yoga was here to stay as a lifelong companion on the journey of life.
These injuries thought me, I had to change things dramatically. For starters, I had to alter my practice and keep it going steady in order to heal on a physical, mental and emotional level. That meant tuning in with a kind inner voice, sending healing power to my injury. Taking a few steps back in the postures, showed me how my ego had been interfering and how to start really 'do yoga'. Yoga meaning the union of body, mind and soul, so we can practice Ahimsa in every cell of our being and spread love instead of fear and anger. Amen 🙂
So now, stepping on my mat, I try to listen very closely to my body. Instead of beating it up, honouring it as a precious temple that will give me the joy of experience.
This is only one aspect of the practice, I hope all students can experience. Stay tuned for the other Yamas( Moral disciplines) and Niyamas (Self observances)the following weeks!
I feel very fortunate to be able to practice with such great teachers lately. Teune Vanderwildt and Jenny Raymundo started their Shala in Antwerp, Belgium only six months ago. This Shala follows the tradition of the Jois family and is totally dedicated to Ashtanga Yoga. If you are triggered and want to start the traditional Ashtanga practice, you can find them on www.ayanr.be .