As a yoga teacher one of the questions I am frequently asked is what my own home practice looks like. I know that my students are expecting an answer that details the strength of my poses, the sophistication of my arm balances, the sheer complication of my sequencing. Instead I am telling them that currently my practice is based around the Yama of Ahimsa. I am sure that this must be a theme amongst many yogis. There comes a time when the practice becomes incredibly internal. Perhaps this happens early or maybe this is a long time coming. For myself I think it happened at a subconscious level a long while before completing my training and thereby deepening my practice, but it was during my training that I developed a heightened awareness of self.
So currently it is the Yama of Ahimsa that I am considering; Respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others, compassion, kindness, love, benevolence. There is so much that this Yama encompasses. In line with this Yama I am drawn to Marshall Rosenberg and his dialogues on Non-violent communication. As a mother of 2 sometimes charming and occasionally challenging young boys I am getting plenty of opportunities to practice. As I sit here trying my best to write, my 2-year-old is sitting in the hallway dressed as a pirate ‘reading’ a book. He has already come out to my computer and tugged on my PJ’s to show me that he can whistle – he can’t. All this would be cute if it weren’t for the fact that he should have been asleep over an hour ago… truth be told it is still kind of cute but it is testing my level of calm, kind responses. In the past 5 minutes, I have watched him out of the corner of my eye scale the couch, balance carefully and walk along the back of it and he is now about to play my Tibetan bowl – no wait – he wants some banana and apparently, he’s still awake because him and I are both grow-nuts.
If Rosenberg is an unfamiliar name then he’s worth a Google search, if more people could follow his teachings on effective communication it could provide a more peaceful planet. He outlines 4 areas; Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests. Developing these areas enables us to express how we are and what we need, and to understand with empathy how another is and what they need.
I watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary ‘The Flood’ recently and this filled me with dread but also some hope. Surely our society can take the concept of non-violence to a level where we can live peacefully alongside our planet. I have made some major changes to a lifestyle that was already based around reducing my carbon footprint. I am working hard so that I can find a way to live in a home with solar power and a rather large water tank or natural spring nearby. I have taken steps to become the Kaitiaki (guardian) of my surrounding rivers by stopping in to clear them of rubbish so that I can implement change in my own small way.
At a more simplistic level I am listening to my body and the cues that it gives me. I’m conscious of the tension in my shoulders and I’m enquiring as I move to see how I can alleviate this. This exploration and curiosity is something I encourage my students to delve into as well. Be fluid, be gentle, be kind and be self-aware. I am listening to my students and friends, acknowledging their concerns or issues and attempting to redirect them to their inner wisdom. That place of wonderful, deep knowing that resonates from the centre.
There are times when I fall from the wagon of Ahimsa but I am starting to climb back on with more ease, less aches and much more confidence. It would be rather too un-yogic for me to say that this is my favorite exploration yet… so I won’t.