Ahimsa Choose Peace

by Melissa West on

A few days ago I shared this image on my Facebook page

56 people liked it, 22 people shared it and 16 people commented on it. That is a lot of engagement even for my page.

The picture is of an iceberg and shows the tip of the iceberg above the water and then the much larger iceberg below the water. It demonstrates that yoga asana or postures are just the tip of the iceberg and that the rest of yoga is the much larger portion of the iceberg under water.

Many of you expressed an interest in learning more about yoga philosophy in response to this post and so this video blog is in response to that interest.

Today I would like to talk to you about Ahimsa, Nonviolence. It is one of the cornerstones of yoga as laid out by Patanjali in the yoga sutras. Yamas are the ethical guidelines of how we should treat others. Ahimsa is the first guideline and considered to be the most important. It is said to trump all the other yamas.

Yesterday I received a Facebook message on my Namaste Yoga Facebook page from Kim Amlong asking me to sign a petition asking Wanderlust to make their yoga festival a vegetarian festival. What stood out to me about her article 
was how much her philosophy lined up with my own ideals around ahimsa and some of the philosophies we definitely share as real yoga for real people on Namaste Yoga.

Yoga is not about sculpting our physical bodies. Yoga is about expanding our consciousness to include all sentient beings, the earth and the universe we share. Yoga is about awareness of how our every thought, every word and every action affects countless others. Yoga is about love, respect and gratitude for the diversity of all life.
I would like to ensure that ahimsa is not abandoned, lost or destroyed by modern-day yoga practitioners. We need to stop making excuses from outdated ideas, mistaking desires for essential needs, and bending philosophy to support our hedonistic lifestyles. Only ahimsa can pull automatons out of the eternal abyss of unconsciousness.

Take a look at her article, read it, absorb it and if you feel so inspired sign her petition.

Today I would like to recommend some resources from some of my heros who have written about yoga philosophy and ahimsa in a way that really solidified my ideas around ethics and eating.

First of all here is a great little book by Sharon Gannon called Yoga and Vegetarianism where she goes through each of the yamas and how the practices of yoga are historically and structurally tied to an ethical vegetarian lifestyle.

Secondly, and this book changed my life, Wil Tuttle’s world peace diet. It was Wil Tuttle who finally taught me the far reaching implications of my food choices. He helped me understand how I could become more free, more intelligent, more loving and happier through the choices I made.


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