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30 Minutes

Lesson One | Hamstrings

Ahimsa - Loving Kindness

Sometimes Ahimsa is translated as “nonviolence,” and that’s a good place to start. We don’t want our yoga practice to be violent on the body. I like to go one step further, and think of Ahimsa not just as the absence of violence, but as the active practice of cultivating loving kindness. In your video practice today, you’ll be encouraged to be kind to your tight spots, take the stretches slowly, and honor your body’s natural abilities.

In taking this lesson beyond the mat, I invite you to contemplate what loving kindness might look like in your daily life. Is it enough to be nonviolent when raising children? Nonviolent with our thoughts? Nonviolent when we encounter struggles with others? Or, could it be that we strive for something more actively kind; a form of loving compassion that is expressed in our words, thoughts and deeds in all endeavors and throughout the day?

Today and throughout the week, I encourage you to notice areas where you can go above and beyond just the mere absence of violence (a good start in itself) and step up your compassion game to one of active loving kindness. Try practicing today’s video yoga sequence again, later this week and see if your body feels differently from one day to the next. Does your capacity for loving kindness during your yoga practice expand the more your practice?

Journal 3-­5 examples from today in which you went beyond nonviolence, and practiced AHIMSA as active loving kindness, either toward yourself, a loved one, or even a stranger.

Meditation doesn’t have to happen at the same time as your video home practice. You could carve out 5min at the beginning or end of your day, or maybe during your lunch break to meditate. Find a place to sit quietly, either in a chair with back straight and feet flat on the floor, or maybe sitting cross­ legged or kneeling as is comfortable for your body.

During today’s meditation I invite you to practice Ahimsa toward your breath, thoughts, and body. Start by closing your eyes and breathing in and out through the nose. Bless each breath as it enters your nose and lungs; thank each breath as it leaves. Imagine breathing love into each of your body parts, organs, muscles and bones with every breath. When thoughts arise, meet them with loving acceptance. You don’t have to quiet your mind or create an absence of thoughts; instead simply acknowledge each thought with loving compassion and then refocus your awareness on the breath.

Set a timer for 5­-15minutes and finish with a simple prayer pose and “Namaste.”

Connect w ith me any time! I love hearing from my students about what works and what doesn’t. Feel free to email me, or post on my Facebook wall a small message about this week’s practice. Was there a pose you found challenging? Something that particularly worked? Did you try the meditation? Want to share part of your journal with me? I’m happy to hear from you, and enjoy staying connected to my community in this way!

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Email: welovezoe@hotmail.com