Self Care Starts with Non Harming
Many of us have heard about the practice of yoga and probably think of it as a form of stretching or exercise that leads us to good health. But in addition to movement, breath work, and mindfulness, a yogic view or lifestyle also offers us a way to return to a more sustainable wholeness.
The yogic idea of non harming (ahimsa in Sanskrit) is the first principle in Limb One (The Yamas) of the eight limbs of yoga. All the Yamas and Niyamas contain ethics for the age we are in and are really just ethical guiding principles, rather that religious or moral dogma.
Yogic approach to self care
A yogic approach to self care is a unity approach to self care where we unite the many parts of our self into a balanced whole. The unity approach suggests we can easily and naturally find ways to live in balance and in harmony. Unity yogic self care can lead us to experience life as deeply connected to and not separate from other people or from the planet we inhabit.
By contemplating and adopting self care unity principles, we can positively reshape the internal story of our life and also the way we live externally in our family, work, and wider society. Ultimately, through unity self care, even our relationship to the environment can take a positive turn for the better.
So maybe yogic self care is a way to give ourselves and the planet a break at the same time.
The first yogic ethical principle: Non harming
The starting point to this unity yogic approach to wellness is to adopt the first yogic ethical code for all our actions in life. This is the principle of non-violence or non-harming. We start with ourselves in terms of our physical health, abstaining from things that harm us and seeking to live with deep respect for our life.
We can look after our body by keeping it moving. Even though it’s cold and raining, the family is here for the holidays, or we are travelling or busy — and doing movement practice can be a nuisance — we remember the principle of non harming and we get moving. We turn towards ourselves with true love and friendliness even when we are suffering from illness, anxiety, and depression in the face of life’s slings and arrows.
Move and breathe with mindfulness
To the extent we are able, we move our bodies with attention, with care, and with acceptance. Remember to move and breathe with mindfulness.
To be truly in a practice of non-harming, we develop the positive dynamic quality of non-judgment and forgiveness, toward ourselves and others. So, when we remember to do this self care unity practice, we set up the conditions that generate harmony and well being, even in the face of life’s struggles and challenges.
When we live with this deep respect for our own non harming self care we open ourselves to the possibility of our inner evolution. In addition, in a world that seems so fraught with distress and disharmony, through our self care practice of non harming, through mindful movement and breath work, we can align ourselves to the possibility of the ethical evolution our family, our society, and our relationship to our world.
What would a non harming self care Holiday Season look like in your world?
Consultant – Yogi – Mother and Yoga Therapist
Jan teaches a class in Kindful Resilience at the Davis Shambala Center, where many other mindfulness meditative practices are pursued by community members.
Learn more at www.davis.shambhala.org/programs/
Some mindfulness, yoga, and self care books at the Davis Mary L Stephens branch library (among many others):
Davis yoga opportunities:
Barefoot Yoga Studio
Hot Yoga Davis (Bikram)
For a full crowd sourced list of yoga studios in Davis: