Today I am focusing on Ahiṃsā as part of my Eight Limbs of Yoga project.

Ahimsa means nonviolence or not harming, so today I am focusing on non-violence in my actions, feelings, thoughts and words. It is easy for me to be compassionate and caring towards others. It is more difficult for me to be patient and kind with my inner dialogue.

When I go through my day I often have negative thoughts towards how I am doing. I say things to myself that criticize how I look, act, feel or even how I do yoga.

I tell yoga students to consider how they talk with a close friend in comparison with how they talk with themselves. I ask them if they would say something to a friend like, “Hey why don’t you stretch more this way. No not like that. You are not doing that pose right. That girl across the room looks way better than you do.”

compassion quote shannon crow website2

We don’t say words like that to our close friends and yet sometimes this is the way we are speaking to ourself. Most often we don’t even realize it.

Today I am going to become a bit more aware of my inner critic, notice the thoughts and then add in thoughts of self-love and acceptance. In my yoga practice I will do a little less and instead of pushing to reach my limit I will work on cultivating awareness and compassion.

I also want to be a bit more aware of the messages that I am sending to others via thoughts, body language and words.

In Thai Yoga Massage we learn about Metta (loving-kindness). Science is now measuring what happens in the brain when a Metta Meditation is used. Thoughts of compassion are powerful and healing.

What can I do today to send myself metta?

The homework for today (as part of the Eight Limbs of Yoga project) is:

  • Choose to do something to demonstrate self-love today. Write your name or draw a picture of yourself and put a heart around it in your journal.

Share your own thoughts and ways to practice ahimsa in the comments below.