Do you lack strong willpower to move to a lifestyle free from cruelty?
Is it still hard for you to open your heart to the suffering of animals?
Do you want to look at the world with more love?
Give yoga and yamas a chance.
What even is Yoga?
The term ‘Yoga’ can be understood in many different ways. Personally, when my interest in yoga has sparked, I perceived it as just a set of stretching exercises. With time I realized that there is so much more to yoga than just asanas which by the way – have to be performed in a particular way. It takes more than one downward dog to become a yogi.
When practicing asanas we should pay attention to our breath, and listen to our bodies which tell us where our boundaries are and how far can we push them to make progress. In yoga, with the use of mediation we exercise our mind. Asanas help us connect our state of mind with the body, allowing prana to touch every little corner of our bodies. More on this, in Yin Yoga: Stretch the mindful way.
Yoga is an Indian life philosophy which aims to bring harmony between the body, mind and soul.
The main difference between yoga and gymnastics is that yoga is a philosophy. This means that yoga is based on several rules, such as the yamas and niyamas. Think of them as commandments minus the presence of God and the religious background.
Yamas are ethical, moral, social guidelines which every Yogi has at heart and uses them as foundations of all actions, thoughts and words. They help yogis walk this earth embraced in an honest, full of compassion attitude.
Yamas in a cruelty-free life
Patanjali established 5 yamas and 5 nyamas. Every single one of them, to greater or smaller extent teaches us how to treat other living beings and ourselves. This time we’ll talk about yamas and the way they can motivate you to adapt a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Ahimsa – Don’t harm
Ahimsa has the highest moral value and is seen as the base of all other yamas, which only ensures me in my belief that the most important thing in life is to not harm.
It teaches not to harm with thought, speech and action any living being on earth. Practicing ahimsa makes us aware of the good and the bad. We behave with an intention to not cause harm and we oppose to the oppression and exploitation caused by others. Love and empathy drive our behavior.
We can look at multiple aspects of life through the prism of ahimsa. Meat free diet, ethical cosmetics, protection of the environment, tolerance towards other people and animals and surprise – being understanding towards yourself.
If you’re currently on a standard, ‘eat-all’ diet, The Yoga Kitchen Plan, based on sattvic lacto-vegetarian diet, might be a good starter for you.
Satya – Speak the truth
Emotions always speak the truth, which is why we should always honestly say what we think and how we feel. Here’s is where we take a step towards Ahimsa because expressing our emotions isn’t always easy or pleasant. By adapting the ‘don’t hurt’ attitude we remember, to express ourselves without aggression, calmly, without hurting anybody.
Asteya – Don’t steal
Theft in the eyes of a yogi is not limited to material, physical belongings. It relates to us reaching our hands and mind out for something we don’t have a right for. We often behave this way unconsciously. We waste someones time complaining or being late, we exploit and ruin nature unrightfully or we take life from animals without need.
Brachmacharya – Control your senses
Generally speaking this yama is perceived to focus on the control of the senses which at first glance doesn’t relate to love towards animals.
However, let’s look into the reasons why we eat animals. In our world, let’s be honest, the main reason is the pleasure of taste. That being the ruling desire of the sense of taste.
Aparigraha– Don’t accumulate
The idea is to limit your needs to a minimum and keep the ones we need to stay alive
In today’s world, full of commercials and consumerism, I see aparigraha as particularly important. It helps not only notice joy in the smallest things without the chase after never ending money but it helps the environment, animals and people.
The less we need, the less we buy. In effect, our footprint on the environment is a lot smaller.
If you’re looking for yoga wear and tools, Planet Warrior makes them of recycled plastic bottles and eco rubber.
We all live in a society filled with chaos, noise, media, manipulation and constant need for more. Yoga and its philosophy help us detach from this mess and teach us how listen to our inner selves, without outer influence.
To begin your journey with yoga, attend a yoga festival such as Yogific which I attended and loved!
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