“Thoughts on Kindness”
By Nancy Weshkoff
Patanjali, often considered the father of yoga, designed the 8-part system on which yoga is practiced. The first of these 8 parts are entitled “Yamas”, and the very first “Yama” is called “Ahimsa”. Ahimsa teaches us to practice non-violence and be kind to ourselves and others. It is noteworthy that Ahimsa is first, well before “Asana” which is the practice of movement that many of us associate with attending a yoga class. Why is ahimsa so important that it comes first?
As a teacher, as well as the owner of Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, NY, I see students every day as they come to the studio to learn and practice. As students enter the studio, I sometimes hear negative comments such as “I’m not flexible”, “I’m not strong”, “I’m too overweight”, “I’m too old”, etc. I always address these when I hear them. Where is our kindness to ourselves? It is sad that we often compare ourselves to touched-up, airbrushed images of the perfect body and try to emulate this.
It is so important that we be “present” and be the very best that we can be in that particular moment. It doesn’t matter that you are size 14 instead of size 2 or that you haven’t developed enough flexibility to touch your toes. The fact that you are in a yoga class and working towards being stronger and more flexible, learning how to breathe more fully and deeply, and sharing in a practice with others is a wonderful thing. Be kind to yourself as you practice and focus on positive things.
And a funny thing happens when we start to be kind to ourselves. When we are kind to ourselves, we can then be kind to others. Just think of the possibilities if the world experienced a little more kindness each day…