One of the greatest things that I have learned from yoga is the practice of Ahimsa, or “non-harm”. You can practice Ahimsa towards yourself, to others (through thoughts, words or physical contact), other animals, or to our amazing home, Earth.
Before starting the yoga teacher training, I didn’t give much thought to squishing the spider running across my living room floor, swatting a wasp that was landing on my picnic or shooing the fly that was pestering me (gasp!!). Learning about Ahimsa actually changed my outlook on these insects! Everything on this planet is here for a reason. What gives me the right to decide how long they live? It has even given me more of a respect for them, now realizing that they deserve to live just as much as I do (even though I am still fearful and get the heeby jeebies over them)!
One of the yoga trainees in my class that I met was a vegan. At the beginning, I was unsure about cutting all that food out of my diet, although I gave her kudos for it! When we started learning more about Ahimsa, I began to realize why she would want to take this route! Not only did I see the health benefits to my own body, but I finally understood the “non-harm” portion of it. Just like my acknowledgement to the insects, I could relate it to the other animals that I was eating. I started thinking about that poor little chicken when I would see it on my dinner plate and that sweet little goat being milked for my cheese.
For me, my allergies prevent me from eating a lot of foods made from animals, so the cutting out of certain foods was fairly easy. That being said, there are times that I desperately want that piece of cheese – so, I eat it. My husband will make his famous prawn stir-fry – so, I eat it. And the honey I eat with my peanut butter – I eat it! While I am striving to change my diet to a vegan one, I must practice Ahimsa towards myself, and allow for treats without judgement!
With today’s worry over global warming, we can become easily overwhelmed with information on how we can help improve our environment. Becoming vegan is just one of the many, many, MANY ways that we can show Ahimsa towards our planet. I’m reminded of the story of the young man throwing the starfish back in the ocean, one at a time. We must remind ourselves, that what may seem like a small change, can make a huge difference in the long run!
By Jenny Hindey
Jenny Hindley is a graduate of the Feel Good yoga teacher training program.