In the past few weeks, class themes have turned to the Yamas. Ahimsa- non-violence, Satya- truthfulness, and Asteya- non stealing are the first three of the five Yamas. We can view these as quite basic and obvious guidance, things we learned as children and that as adults we need not give much thought. But if we start to consider them on a more subtle level, .we may observe habits and behaviours that lack the true spirit of the Yamas. So once more, the skill of noticing, witnessing ourselves is the crucial component for a process of reflection and change.
It seems to me one of the purposes of the Yamas is to prevent barriers and cynicism building up amongst people in a community. The Yamas help people to trust each other and feel safe to open up to others. We can rely upon being treated fairly, with kindness and consideration. In doing so, we all benefit from a deeper, truer connection with each other, as with ourselves.
On our mats, we can strive to keep a positive and encouraging attitude within, even when faced with challenging poses and unfamiliar sequences. We can notice and listen to our bodies, respecting our limits but striving for quality movement with breath that takes us to our edge but not beyond. We can notice what we do achieve vs. challenges yet to conquer. Keeping a positive frame of mind helps create that energetic vibe in class that we all benefit from.
How can we put change into action off our mats? For me, I can try to pause a few moments when interacting with someone to set aside my own agenda and notice them, really see them, connect to a positive quality in them, and perhaps do a little more listening rather than speaking. This could take awhile to cultivate!
Happy holidays everyone.
Ruth is a yoga therapist and yoga teacher based in Cheltenham, UK. She emphasises yoga as a tool for well-being, for individuals and in her classes, in person or via zoom.