Yamas are the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga and regard living with ethics. There are five yamas: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (moderation), and aparigraha (non-grasping).


Ahimsa-compassion for all living things including self; non-violence; non-manipulation; non-interference

(Violence-misplaced application of energy)

I did not realize until a recent yin yoga class focused on forgiveness that I was angry at the universe for throwing my entire life out of balance by making it rain so hard over so many months that the ground became saturated and flooded my home. Not once did I consciously think this event was directed at me for something I had done wrong. I maintained the idea that things just happen and we can’t control them. We have to move forward and deal with it. But deep-seated within were anger and the feeling that “it isn’t fair!” Finishing that yin class in tears, I realized it was time to forgive the universe and ultimately forgive myself for my grief. It was time to heal and finally relieve my longing for what I had.

My pain within was causing me to lash out at times to my family. The week of the yoga class, it was bubbling beneath the surface. I might pick an argument with my husband or be impatient with my kids and I did not like myself for my behavior. I talked to a therapist days after my tearful yin class and slowly worked out my battle with myself over the flood. I told myself I should learn to let go of the house, it was just a house. Telling myself I was too materialistic and needed to stop being that way; that my complaints over my new house were petty and shallow; that I need to get over it!

This week, since yoga teacher training, I have paid more attention to my internal dialogue and the energy I am projecting not only to myself, but to my family, to the universe and even, to my new house. Am I living with non-violence to myself and others? Am I being compassionate? I had put up a barrier to my new house deciding that I would never like it, that it would never be good enough. I didn’t care about it and felt like a visitor in my home. After a workshop on home practice, I realized that I had to infuse my love and energy into my new house and learn to connect again; that my love and memories in my old house are still within me and ultimately, we built that love there in the first place. And it can be done again.

Last week, I decided to begin my home yoga practice that I had long neglected since the flood. There was not enough space at my mom’s house where we lived for almost three months and I had subconsciously resisted developing a practice since we moved. I realized that it was a defense mechanism…the whole “I don’t care” attitude wasn’t necessarily true.  So, I set up a yoga room. It is in the room that we felt had no real purpose, now I see how wrong I was. It feels good practicing at home again.

Practicing at home reminds me why I do yoga in the first place. To quote one of my dearest friends,

“Although I have had many teachers of yoga that I am thankful for, only a few I call my teacher by choice. The more sacred the practice the less people I accept as a teacher.

But the truth is, yoga teaches me that the beginning is as important as the end and the true teacher is the practice. 

So practice.”

And the practice is in you. Ultimately, we are our own teachers.

Be good, be loving, take care of yourself and others. Ahimsa.

12 thoughts on “Yamas~Ahimsa

  1. Namaste! Our practice is in us! If Yoga is about finding the Self then you got to use the available tools that only u have. This is what they mean by living it versus going somewhere to get it. And I notice when I have too much, or am troubled about something that getting on my mat is really the last thing I want to do. But I do because that reminds me that I’m not alone.

  2. I’m doing Dr. Melissa West’s classes on YouTube, and she is doing a series on the Yamas, and I’ve done the first four listed, but I did love (do love) Ahimsa, it fits my goal of being nice to myself, and to not have violent thoughts directed towards myself and others!
    What a breakthrough you’ve had, and I expect, with all that has happened to you in the last year, I imagine that you’ll have a few more – and I bet they are all just as painful and healthy! 🙂 Glad to hear you’ve set up a home practice again!

  3. Excellent post Kerry.

    I sympathise with your loss due to the flooding, but I admire your resolve.

    Perhaps it’s not fair, but much of life is just down to chance.

    Thanks for this post. You’ve reminded me to stay flexible, and stay strong.

    Thank you.

  4. What a lovely, healing post. It is human nature I suppose to want to harden our hearts for protection after a painful experience.When one person realizes his process and develops compassion and forgiveness for him or her self, it is a victory for us all. We’ve all been there. Namaste!

  5. Gorgeous post, Kerry. I completely relate to the whole “this isn’t fair” thing. I thought I was doing pretty well under all this stress the past few weeks and wondered why the past few days have been particularly hard. ..I just realized that I haven’t been able to practice yoga for over a week now. My gym is the dumping ground for all the displaced boxes and stuff – so this means no yoga space for me. The truth is I could have found another piece of floor somewhere in the house to practice, but I didn’t. And I now see how impactful (in a positive way) the regular practice has been on me. Time to re-prioritize on it. Thank you for the reminder.

  6. As usual, you amaze me. I hope your training is going well overall. The most important lessons are so difficult to learn. Thank you again for reminding me to practice.

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