Yoga Challenge: Yamas (Interpersonal Ethics) #1 – Ahimsa (Non-Harming)

Daily Yogi branch of Yamas lower limb of yoga - Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha
Yamas – Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha

Happy Day 1 of our 30 Day Yoga Challenge – Ahimsa

Welcome New Yogis! If you are in a 30 Day Challenge, you may want to check the challenge welcome page and shortcut page, and get free printable calendars and checklists!

Today is the official start of our 30 Day Challenge and our practices inspired by the Yoga Sutras. It is Ahimsa Day!

1st Limb of Yoga – Yamas (Interpersonal Ethics)

We will start with the first Limb of Yoga – Yamas. There are 5 Yamas, and we will take a full day to learn and practice each of the five.

Many of the translations from Sanskrit to English for the Yamas (YAH-muhs), or Interpersonal Ethics, are things you should NOT do. I consider many of the Yamas to be different embodiments of The Golden Rule – “do unto others as you would want done to you.” Of course we aim to not do the negative thing, but on the flip side we also should try to embody the positive opposite.

Yamas #1 – Ahimsa (Non-Harming)

Ahimsa (Ah-HIM-sa) literally translates to English as “to not harm”, and is often translated as compassion or non-violence. I believe Ahimsa is all about positivity and doing the right thing. To practice Ahimsa, we try to avoid harming others physically or with speech/thoughts, and to practice kindness and compassion. This means nurturing positive actions, words, and thoughts.

Please note that perfect adherence to many yoga principles is not possible for most normal people. Technically, non-harming is impossible for many professions such as farmers harvesting crops or raising livestock, and physicians who may have bad outcomes despite the best training, efforts, and intentions. No one should give up a profession that may result in unintended harm, or fret that an accident or a lifestyle you grew up with (ie a non-vegan diet) will hinder you on your journey. You probably are not a monk, and therefore perfect adherence is not expected of you. That said, you should always do your best within reason to avoid harming others. The main lesson of Ahimsa, in my opinion, is to do the right thing, be a good person, and cultivate positive thoughts, words, and actions. What that means to you and your lifestyle is personal, like much of the Yogi’s Journey.

I am sure we can all agree the world can use more kindness. So, let’s start easy.

Today’s Positive Practice suggestion

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is performing a random act of kindness. Need some ideas?

  • Bring home a favorite meal or special treat for a loved one.
  • Be extra friendly driving in the car, giving someone the right of way.
  • If you can, pay for the order for the person behind you in a drive through. Has that ever happened to you? It happened to my sister, it made her day!
  • If we are no longer in the days of social distancing or you are in your household, hold the door open for the person behind you, or help someone who is struggling to reach or carry something.
  • Volunteer.
  • Give to charity (I recommend donating to WWF or supporting 4Ocean – a business doing great things for ocean clean-up!)
  • Plant a tree.
  • Whatever feels like the right way for you to actively practice kindness and compassion, or to do your small part to make someone else smile, or make the world better today than it was yesterday.

Want more Ahimsa practices? Check out our Ahimsa Guide!

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Share your Practice

Please comment to share your experience if you tried one of our suggestions, or one of your own! Always remember, be kind!

4 thoughts on “Yoga Challenge: Yamas (Interpersonal Ethics) #1 – Ahimsa (Non-Harming)

  1. I helped a lady at the deli who was in a wheelchair get her order. She said it was good timing that I was there =)

  2. I brought my friend a new mask and a can of Boost oxygen to help her with wearing a mask at work

  3. My husband has been in the hospital the past few days after his appendix burst, and is hopefully coming home tomorrow. I stocked up on all his favorite snacks that he’s allowed to eat, and my son and I made and decorated a welcome home card!

  4. I’m cooking dinner today for a friend who was just recently in a bad car accent.

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