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Theme of the Week - Ahimsa (non-violence)

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Theme of the Week - Ahimsa (non-violence)

Every week of the year has a theme at my studio, @suryayogakc. The themes are the same year to year, I just never tell anyone about them (except those in class). One of my goals this year is to let you know about the theme, even if I'm a little late in the week.

Ashtanga means 8 Limbs in Sanskrit. These 8 limbs are paths or guidelines or things we can practice to live the yoga lifestyle.

They are:
Yamas (moral obligations)
Niyamas (observances)
Asana (poses)
Pranayama (breathing)
Pratyahara (turning inward)
Dharana (concentration)
Dhyana (meditation)
Samadhi (bliss or contemplation or being in the flow)

Some are done alone, while others happen simultaneously.

I like to think of the 8 Limbs like paths in the woods. I like to pretend that I'm in a clearing in the woods and their are 8 paths radiating out away from me. I could go down the concentration path or the breathing path. The paths may merge or meander through each other at times. But I always pick the right one based on my needs at the moment.

The first Yama (moral obligation) is Ahimsa, or non-harming. This applies to our thoughts, words and actions regarding oneself and others and may even include animals and creatures of nature, like bees. Some vegans like to use this as their anthem as to why they don't eat any animals or by-products. No judgement here, I was vegan for 7 years, not because of a moral dilemma like Ahimsa, but for health reasons.

There is a wonderful book called the Yamas and Niyamas, Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele and she lays out the Yamas and Niyamas so beautifully with real life examples.

One of my favorite examples from her book is how we spread ourselves so thin and we are so busy (because it's the American culture norm) that we end up harming ourselves because we are out of balance with our mind, spirit and body. "When we are in balance, we automatically live in nonviolence." (pg 26).

Deborah Adele's book is available on Amazon. 


Annie is the owner of Surya Yoga in Olathe, KS and also teaches public classes and leads teacher trainings.

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