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When studying the the sutras in my first teacher training in 2013, I was most fascinated by the term “ahimsa”. Ahimsa is one of the 5 yamas and the yamas are the first of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga. Ahimsa means non-violence or to not cause harm (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, p. 118).

I found this term so fascinating because there are so many ways that we, as humans, cause harm; to ourselves, others, and to the environment. Expanding on this in our daily lives, if we are sustaining ourselves with food from the earth (plant and/or animal) is that harming the environment? Or is that non-harm as we are sustaining our own survival? If we put others ahead of ourselves is it truly ahimsa if we are harming ourselves in the process?

Yoga teaches us to be the best people we can be, but still honours a place of learning and understanding that we are not perfect. I would argue that in the practice of ahimsa, it is best to practice balance. It would be great to put others first, but not if that causes harm to ourselves.

I personally believe that if we all try to be just a little bit more aware of the space we take up in the world and how our actions affect others, then this world with become a much better place to live! We can’t all be perfect, and who really wants to be perfect? But, I’m sure we could all be just a little bit better sharing this world with the rest of its’ inhabitants, human and otherwise.

What does ahimsa, causing no harm, mean to you? Please share in the comments!

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