Start with Self Acceptance

Yoga is a practice of conscious movement and an invitation to see who we are right now.  Other forms of movement are about improving —running faster, cycling longer, lifting more, etc.  Yoga is not a self-improvement program; it’s about self-acceptance.

Ahimsa is the first yama (yama = restraint) and means non-violence to others as well as oneself.  An understanding of ahimsa is necessary in order to grasp yoga as being a practice of self-acceptance.  Ahimsa is the first step of learning how to be centered, confident and appreciative of what you have to offer this world as well as what others can offer.  Ahimsa is the foundation from which all choices, on and off the mat, evolve.

Committing to ahimsa enables you to change habitual patterns of thinking and doing that cloud your heart and cause harm.  Patterns such as criticizing, judging and negative chatter about you and others.  Ahimsa opens your eyes to accepting others as they are.  Ahimsa enables you to see that where you are today is a place to work from.  With an open heart, self-accepting mindset and consistent practice, the judgemental tendencies can fade and the work can begin towards creating change.  Judging creates suffering.  Suffering leads to violence, internal and external. 

Challenge:  The obvious is to notice the harm in your words and actions towards others.  Go further…Start to pay attention to what you silently say to yourself about you and others.  Notice how you treat your body.  Notice your reactions to events, people, places, etc.  Do you criticize?  Do you judge “a book by its cover”?  Are your words harsh?  What happens if you just listen and don’t react?  On your mat, for instance in Paschimottanasana, can you ease your hands down your legs consciously with breathe verses just automatcially grabbing at your feet when the pose is called?

Ahimsa is a starting point.  Practicing ahimsa on and off your yoga mat builds the foundation needed to expand your yoga and journey of self-acceptance.  This is where positive and powerful changes can occur.  Once you can accept yourself and others, you’ll move from a place of groundedness.  You’ll feel more centered.  You’ll feel more alive, on and off your yoga mat.

One response to this post.

  1. This is so nicely put. I tried writing about Ahimsa – but I have to admit – you put it so much better 😉


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