Ahimsa aka non-harming

Some of you might have heard about the philosophy behind yoga and maybe even read the sutras or the Bhagavad Gita for yourself.


Ahimsa or the one of the yamas relating to 'non-harm' or 'non-violence' has aired just about every yoga account on social media and throughout the rest of yoga land online.


Which, ironically, now includes Yoga Orkney!




Ahimsa, is translated to 'non-violence'. In the Yoga world this is often taken to mean an aptitude for vegetarianism. Yoga comes from a culture that is vasty made up of vegetarians and we don't want to hurt the animals... You know me by now... it's not as simple as that!


Say for example becoming vegetarian made you anemic or that you come from an area that struggles to grow vegetables and that that inflicted harm back towards yourself, your family to your community. Is that still ahimsa? What if a whole community was dependent upon farming and managing the land, would the impact upon them still constitute harm?


In truth there is a huge wrap around context to these philosophical sign posts. Ahimsa is one of eight Yamas, often referred to as the with limbs of yoga. The eight limbs really comes from the Ashtanga yoga lineage, which is just one path.


Furthermore, there are concepts of the 'Gunas' in yoga philosophy which help us make sense of our current state and the 'Kleshas' which, when activated, are the cause of our suffering. The same actions and reactions will not activate the Kleshas for everyone.


All of these wrap around importantly to show us that the sutras (should you choose to inspect them) are a system. A complex one at that. If we look at systems on the whole -

“Whole system processes employ the metaphor of organisations as living beings, pluralist and in transition and flux. Seen this way, the relationships betweens the parts are more important than detailed definition of the workings of each part: minimum specification enhances creativity.”
– Attwood, et. al., 2003” 10)

We'll explore these topics in more detail in a later post. For now the takeaway is that guidance is just that.... Guidance. We need room to interpret what works for ourselves and those around us. Yet having some guidance can be a great springboard for consideration.



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