The Yoga Sutras, which are the foundation of Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga, teach us about leading a non-harming way of life. Living a life of non-harming means more than not hurting others through violent means. Most of us can do that already with little trouble. We must also consider the less overt types of harming that we experience on a daily basis. Negative actions and talk can be harming, exposure to violence in the media can be harming to us, if we accept it as natural behavior, and treating our natural resources as if they will be there forever can be harming to future generations. All of these subtle aspects of violence play a much larger role in our lives. We can also let harm happen to others by not taking action to help them.
Picture the image of a human being with four arms protruding from each side of his or her body. Each limb is detailed in the Yoga Sutras, and is meant to signify the path to total enlightenment. Each limb, signifies moral codes of conduct, postures, breathing, withdrawing from the senses, concentration, meditation, or perfected concentration. The first set of steps consists of the five Yamas, which are codes of self-restraint, regulation, abstinence, and relationships with the world outside of the self. More specifically, the Ahimsa Yama signifies non-harming, non-violence, and non-injury.
Perhaps, you have heard the quote: “Never answer an angry word with an angry word. It’s the second that makes the quarrel.” Ahimsa stands for the belief that if you react to others with peace and non-harming attitudes, they will follow suit. Shining your own inner peace onto others can alleviate hostility and aggression.
Yoga teachers should implement Ahimsa into their daily practices by treating students with respect and patience. Learn to release negative emotions and thoughts the moment they come into your brain. Accept your students as they are, and do all you can to help them grow in their Yoga practices. Banish negative self-thoughts by releasing them the moment they enter your consciousness. Avoid accepting criminally violent entertainment as an accepted part of daily life. To a point, forms of media openly endorse the cultivation of violence in our society as entertainment. Therefore, we should be selective in what we accept as entertainment.
We can treat Planet Earth with respect by using only what we need, consuming only enough for one’s needs as much as possible, and recycling the resources, which are readily available to us. As we absorb the knowledge of the Eight Limbs, we must remember that a non-harming way of life is critical. The more we practice it, the easier it will become. Your students will see the inner peace you possess, it will put them at ease, and inspire them to follow in your footsteps.