Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ahimsa - a hymn what?

So that's what a bad joke looks like. I know. You've never seen one until JUST that moment... lol...

I'm working on a basic yoga class that I am going to teach on Friday and I decided my theme for the class will be "Ahimsa."

Welcome to Yoga 101! Your first lesson... rules!

In yoga there are these things called the "yamas." There are five of them to be exact and these yamas or these rules are the guidelines on how to live a peaceful and yoga driven life.

[Something I should have mentioned earlier - if you don't already know, the "yoga" the general public knows - the exercise portion - is called asana. Asana is only a portion of Yoga and a small one at that, but it's a lovely place to start.]

The Yamas are listed as follows:

  1. Ahimsa - Non-harming
  2. Satya - Truthfulness
  3. Asteya - Non-stealing, (coveting, excessive debt, etc)
  4. Brahmacharya - Divine conduct (Tiger Woods failed at this one)
  5. Aparigraha - Letting go of desires (this one too...)
There are other rules too - like the Niyamas which adds 5 more to that list - but you get the general idea. Some people take these to the extreme. Brahmacharya is a good example. Some translate this into "no sex" - I (with millions of others) read the description and decided on "restraint" (this would explain the lack of porn in my life these days. It was a choice I made, and I'm happy with it.)

So AHIMSA! Non-harming. People look at this and push the "vegan" button on their life. I too agreed to this and decided to take that extra step from vegetarian to vegan (but honestly all I had to do was give up cheese, eggs and honey - everything else has been out of my life for a very long time) and that's normally where most stop, I, on the other hand, decided to take it one further.

What is harmful? Yes, killing animals is harmful and even with honey... Some tell me that "the bee doesn't die so it doesn't matter," but come on!  Isn't destroying a summers worth of work just to sweeten our corn flakes as harmful. That said, if we are what we eat... do we really want to be death and a thief? Our food/clothing/sweetener choices are not the only things that Ahimsa applies to. It applies to doing things that cause pain to others - gossip is a good example. It applies to hurting ourselves, like watching a documentary about abuse of animals - yes - that's Ahmisa too.

All religions basically come down to the same thing:
Treat all living things with respect, be respectful to yourself, don't think you're better than anyone/thing - cuz you're not and smile!

Don't cheat because you feel you deserve more "T & A"
Give people the benefit of the doubt

And, once again, most of all SMILE!

Now lets go back to the beginning of this here blog. As I was saying, I'm writing a class I plan on teaching on Friday. My theme is about Ahimsa - and how its not a narrow little river, it is the Nile and at times its wider than most lakes you know of.

As I think about these "themes" I feel like a hypocrite because I think of my grade school preacher and his hour of drivel that keeps me inside that big marble box, painted all nice with images of dead people.

And I hate it.

But last night it hit me. Just like I said before - Yoga isn't just asana. Yoga is a life and if I'm to teach you, my students, about that life I need to get over the 12 year old girl that was embarrassed because she had to say 15 Hail Mary's because she swore.

So please don't think that's what I'm being now. Preachy.
Your life is your choice.
I choose to not do a lot of things because I'm one of those people that needs to "take away" to appreciate the bigger picture. I need to live by the rules, very tightly, because I'm very good at rewarding myself for merely being alive.

In the end this is what I hope you get out of this. Yoga is a way of life. The word means "to yoke" or "to connect" and that is what I hope everyone does with every moment of their lives. Connect to someone or something - to "plug in" and see a bigger world.

And once you see it all, you can't unsee it. You're stuck with it.

I will close with this.
We all deserve something better, but until we stop shitting on people for having what we think is better than what we have, we'll never get past the spot we're in now - and that, my friend, is no practicing Ahimsa - because you're harming yourself.

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