I started class today, reminding my students to practise ahimsa, the Sanskrit word for non-harm and non-judgement. I explained that yoga is not meant to be a painful experience. If at any time during your practise, you feel pain, stop and come out of the pose. Either take a more comfortable version of the pose or ask for help. I know first hand that it can be hard to listen to your body, as we are encouraged most of our lives to try hard, effort and we will succeed. This is an ego driven thought. The ego presides in the mind, so when you can move out of your mind and into your heart, you are easily able to listen to your body and not hurt it. This is one way of experiencing the "yoga bliss" that students rave about.
When talking about the non-judgement side of ahimsa, I brought up the feeling that we experience when we poke fun of, or judge others around us. It gives us a feeling of superiority which feeds our ego. The hard thing about the ego is that every time we judge another, we in turn have to judge ourselves. First we find something negative that we believe about others and judge them using an imaginary scale, making sure we aren't as "bad" as they are. Then using this same scale system, we find areas in our own lives that we don't like and believe we are "bad" at. Strangely enough these tend to be the thoughts we dwell on. So today I asked my students to think of a positive thought, mantra or affirmation that they repeated to themselves multiple times during their practise and then I suggested using this mantra for the rest of the day and challenged them to repeat it during the week.
I ask you now... write down a positive affirmation about yourself and then tape it to your bathroom mirror (or car dash, or computer, or cell phone) for the week, repeating it as often as you remember or when ever you read it and find a little of that yoga bliss we all love!