For the next two months, I will feature some fundamentals of yogic philosophy here on the blog.
Many of my students have heard me talk about the Yamas and the Niyamas -- sorta the 10 commandments of yoga. Today I'll discuss Ahimsa, or non-violence/non-harming.
Ahimsa is not harming any living being by speech, thought or action. Having awareness and gentleness in action, thought and speech. Since violence rises out of fear, anger, ignorance, restlessness, or selfishness, let yourself practice compassion, love, understanding, patience, worthiness. Avoid blaming and judging. Apply this to how you treat yourself and others.
I try to bring the principle of Ahimsa into my daily life, as well as my yoga practice. At home, I do my best not to yell (not always easy with a preschooler), and I never, ever hit. Unkind thoughts and words are harder to tame, though. When I hear myself being judgmental of other people, I try to see things from their perspective. When I find myself being judgmental of myself (all too often) I try to counter it with kindness. Life is a constant process of self-improvement. But we must be kind and accepting of ourselves as well.
The yogis often carry the principle of Ahimsa into their diets -- choosing a vegetarian diet so that other beings are not harmed in order to nourish ourselves. I realize that the vegetarian diet does not work for many people. Still, adding an occasional meat-free meal to one's routine can have all sorts of health benefits.
You can find some of my favorite vegetarian and vegan recipes on my food blog, http://eatbaconbernstein.blogspot.com/