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Last month we took at look at Asteya (non-stealing), and this month our studio theme at Kula focuses on Ahimsa, non-harming. While there are obvious ways you can observe Ahimsa like not acting violently, the more subtle ways to treat yourself and others kindly may come into play more regularly.

Demonstrate Ahimsa With Yourself

On the mat: Yoga is amazing because it helps us identify and connect with what our body and mind need. Feeling sluggish and dull? Maybe you need a fiery Power class. Overworked and overwhelmed? A Yin class could be the soothing answer. Use your time on the mat to ask yourself the questions that often get pushed aside by our busy schedule, and honor that! When you do step on your mat, don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. If you fall out of Dancer’s Pose shake it off and try again, without judgment.
Off the mat: Be kind to yourself! We place so much pressure on ourselves to work harder, perform better and reach our goals that we often ignore the fact that we’re exhausting ourselves physically and mentally. Of course it’s important to try our best in all that we do, but practice Ahimsa by checking in and feeding yourself with the things that refuel your tank. Stay in tune with what your soul is craving. Try this: Treat yourself to something special each week- maybe it’s a little yummy treat, a visit to a special park, or even 10 extra minutes to snooze after your alarm goes off.

Practice Ahimsa With Others

On the mat: We’ve all been there when the person practicing next to us seems perfect- no wobbles in balancing poses, flawless execution of arm balances, and floats effortlessly through inversions. Right away our minds go to that place of “not good enough.” Bring it back to Ahimsa. We all have our own strengths and struggles, so ignore whatever is happening around you and focus on your own practice- that’s where the learning happens. We never know what others are going through, always put compassion first.
Off the mat: It’s easy to feel frustrated and fed up with others. When we can’t control a situation we feel powerless and vulnerable- when we act from that negative place, it’s usually not very nice. Next time someone else has you feeling ready to break, work from a place of understanding instead of reacting. Keeping Ahimsa in mind, can you be more kind?

About the author: Miranda Raimon is a yoga instructor, Kula studio manager and freelance health & wellness writer from the San Francisco Bay Area.