by Kathleen Conlon Hinge
While the physical practice of yoga is greatly beneficial, the practice of yoga postures is only one part of the eight-fold path of yoga, as detailed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The practice of yoga begins with a set of principles to govern our own behavior -- these act as constraints that keep our actions "yogic." The first of these governing principles is ahimsa, or non-harming. That is, non-harming is the "first of the first" -- it is the first principle in the first practice of yoga.
Ahimsa is the foundation of yoga practice. Everything else follows from it.
When you practice yoga, it should never hurt. Never push yourself beyond your ability to breathe smoothly and spaciously. Always practice at a level where you can witness sensation with a calm and generous attention.
Non-harming does not mean that postures will be entirely comfortable. Practicing ahimsa in the midst of physical discomfort on the mat opens our hearts to experience more of life off the mat. We can live with greater ease and greater kindness for ourselves and others, even at those times where life is uncomfortable.
Practiced with ahimsa, our yoga practice will benefit not only ourselves, but those around us as well.
Yoga Shivaya Wisdom Blog
This Blog is drawn from the collective wisdom of the Yoga Shivaya community: its teachers, healing arts practitioners and students. All entries are posted by Kathleen Conlon Hinge, the studio's Director. Read more about Kathleen on our Teachers page.