Fear and Loathing in VinyasaFebruary 8, 2012
Finding Your EdgeApril 17, 2012
What’s love got to do with yoga?
In the last blog post, I wrote a little about the non-harming side of the first Yama, known as Ahimsa. At the other end of the spectrum (but not separate from) is Love and Reverence. It was a practice in Ahimsa to not force myself to finish this post by Valentine’s Day though at first I wanted to have it coincide with the day of love because I enjoy the idea of a day set aside for love. However, every day is a perfect day to remember love. Sometimes practicing yoga can be like that too… not forcing myself to “get” a posture faster than is safe or kind to myself and remembering love always.
Of Ahimsa, Ghandi had this to say…
Ahimsa is not merely a negative state of harmlessness but it is a positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer. But it does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer: it means the putting of one’s whole soul against his will. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire.
It is said that if we are completely loving, with no violence within us, then we also will not be harmed. Love means choosing to be compassionate, kind, generous, supportive as well as simply non-harming… plus so much more.
Just like every individual practice will look different, so too will every practice of Ahimsa. As different as each practice looks on the outside, they are infinitely more different on the inside as well as off the mat. Having said that, they are also quite similar.
Wikipedia explains love in this way…
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.
If I bring this to my yoga practice on the mat, then I would choose compassion in each posture. I would back out of pain to a place that I can be in comfortably, while still challenging myself, or find a different pose altogether if necessary. I would find a place where I can smile instead of frown or grimace in a posture for my sake and for any others that may notice ;) If I bring this to my yoga off the mat, I take care of myself and others and choose the most kind actions, thoughts and words in every situation.
It may be simple to say, “Choose Love.” It may not be an easy task to carry out though. Hence why it’s part of the “practice.” Any time you can choose love over another option, you build strength and a new pathway to make it more likely that you’ll choose love at another time. Kind of like every time you step on your mat to practice, you make it easier to do so again. Every time you practice towards a posture with compassion, you make it more likely to find that posture comfortably and in a safe manner. When you play with the inner aspects of yoga (like love and compassion) while playing with the outer practice of the physical postures, you “advance” your practice and benefit yourself and others along the way.
My challenge to you… practice Ahimsa for a week or two and take note of the changes. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share what you find.