Ahimsa. It sounds like a funny yogi word… but it’s oh so much more than that.
Yes, I learned about it in teacher training at CorePower, but I feel compelled to share it with all of you mostly because of how it’s effected me outside of the studio. Let’s break it down.
Without getting too yogi on you, the yamas and niyamas are basically ethical guides. It might sound boring, but the teacher training lecture that broke them down was my favorite session so far. So many of the things that I love about yoga were all of a sudden articulated in it’s history, and I definitely nerded out a bit. The yamas and niyamas include things you’d expect, like truthfulness and gratitude… but one of them stuck with me more than any of the others.
Ahimsa roughly translates to “non-harming.” Don’t harm anyone… umm, obviously, right?? But what if it was about more than just refraining from physically hurting someone? What if you treated people with compassion instead of saying or even thinking unnecessarily hurtful things about them? Try to recognize those thoughts and then make room for the possibility that there might not be any need for all that negativity.
But the REAL root of ahimsa is one step further – what if this doesn’t just apply to how you treat other people… what if this applies to how you treat yourself? See, for most of us, that’s the hardest part.
In this same session, we talked a lot about the concept of Big Self vs small self. Your small self includes the little things that make up who you are. Your job, where you live, your friends, your significant other – the variables. Even though these can change, many of us tend to cling to them in order to define ourselves… but what happens if one of these things shifts? You move to a new city, switch careers, deal with the end of a relationship… these happen all the time. So if/when you’re faced with these changes, you are left with your Big Self – who you are underneath it all. And the million dollar question is… do you like that person?
… and now we’re back to ahimsa 🙂
For my long time followers, you already know that the first half of my twenties were a little bit of a struggle. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get what I wanted and I couldn’t help but think that my flaws were the reason I wasn’t where I wanted to be. And then all of the things that made up my “little self” were stripped away. “I live in New York” / “I’m solely pursuing an acting career” / “I live near my best friends” / “I’m in a committed relationship” – every single one of those statements were no longer true. Scary, right? Definitely. But it also gave me the opportunity to look at my “Big Self” and find out what else I could discover about me.
At the end of the day, all of that needed to happen. That self discovery has made me more successful, more confident and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Learning how to really take care of myself, follow my instincts, and push myself to do things that were once far outside of my comfort zone – these are all things that I couldn’t have discovered if I continued to judge myself and think negatively.
At the same time, life is a practice. Despite all of the good that’s come out of these opportunities, I’ve still managed put myself in a position where I’m working a full time job, maintaining and growing Lake Shore Lady all by myself, and working towards my certification to be a yoga teacher. That is a LOT to juggle, combined with the fact that I get frustrated with myself when I’m unable to do everything on my to do list and give it all 100%… but how could I? I’m only one person. And instead of judging myself for my lack of super human powers, I can be nice to myself, and do what I can and forgive myself for what I can’t. It’s not always easy, but that’s the goal. See?! Ahimsa 🙂
Now, I know I’m not the only one who could use this reminder. Could you be a little bit nicer to yourself? Do you let negative thoughts get you down or hold you back? Think about how you would feel if you let that go. What else could you accomplish? How would you live your life differently?