The word ahimsa, in its simplest terms, means “nonviolence” in Sanskrit. When I was going through yoga teacher training in 2012, I fell in love with the description of ahimsa in Patanjali’s sutras, or threads of teaching. Patanjali is the granddaddy of granddaddies of yoga and he wrote many of the basics of yoga at least 1,700 years ago.
Ahimsa has become my mantra. Each morning when I meditate, I breathe in, “Ahim”; I breathe out, “sa.” I love what ahimsa stands for so much, it’s a permanent part of my body – tattooed right on my shoulder. Very few people actually know the word when they see it, so they ask: Does that say mimosa? Is that your name? What’s that mean?
No, no, pulling them into conversation. It says Ahimsa, which means being good to yourself to be good to others. Self-care is the most important form of caring because if you aren’t well, you can’t do well for others. In other words, the Golden rule: “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.“ Accept and love yourself so that you can accept and love others.
This is what I think of when I think about treating myself. I implore you to ask yourself: Do you take ahimsa to heart? Do you love yourself first and foremost?
I will say that it’s hard to do all the time. I’ll eat that Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cups (let’s be honest, both of them in the King Size pack), I won’t go to the gym when I clearly just saw credit card bill that read $109 for Flirty Girl Fitness, and I’ll Netflix binge BBC dramas super hard instead of calling my friends.
But what always brings me back is my yoga. Each morning, I get up and salute the sun for eight minutes, then sit in meditation for an increasing number of minutes. It’s no vacation to Bali (which, of course, I’d love) but it puts me back to being me. It helps me to love me so that I can love others.
So the next time you need to re-center, re-group, give yourself some love, throw on my favorite yogi song and move around some, try out some sun salutations if you know them, and then take a few minutes to just sit. Sit still - still in your body and still in your thoughts. Just breathe. It takes only 10 or 15 minutes of your day to show yourself some lovin’.
By: Ashley Christensen
Ashley is always up for an adventure - whether that’s trying a new restaurant in Chicago, doing yoga in tall places, or packing her bags for a new country. She loves to read historical fiction, watch BBC dramas, and host brunch clubs. She loves PB and the Why Oh Why podcast (clearly a woman of great taste).
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