At A Dancing Yogi, we encourage compassion during your yoga practice... compassion for yourself and for others.
Principles of nonviolence
We believe in practicing self-love so that we can be compassionate towards others. According to the Yoga Sutras (the collection of yoga's theory and practices), a way to purify the mind and increase serenity is to practice compassion in the face of suffering.
In parallel to medical ethical principles of doing no harm, one of the foundations of yoga is non-violence - Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas (the approach to living yoga outlined in the Patanjali Sutras). Ahimsa relates to self-kindness, self-love, and self-compassion. Ahimsa and the avoidance of harm describe how we treat ourselves, other people, and the world that we live in. If we adopt this approach in life, we can pause and choose: to be free, to live consciously, and to be kind.
One of the things we love about yoga here at A Dancing Yogi is how flexible it is. No yoga practice is ever the same, as you as a human are never the same. There are many forms of yoga, something for everyone, for every day, for every mood. Even within a pose, you have the power to choose how deep to stretch and what feels comfortable for your body at that time. Some days you may feel tight and slow, and other days you may feel more open and alive.
You have the choice to create a yoga practice that works for you and fits your needs. Compassionate yoga practice begins when you invite your body rather than forcing it. We can translate this into our own lives and into working with others as well.
Yoga is a journey of self-discovery, an opportunity to connect with your true self on a deeper level. At its core, it's about developing a deep connection and pure love for your body as it houses your conscious spirit.
In yoga, compassion is called karuna. Compassion means "shared feeling," a level of sympathy so deep that it inspires action to alleviate another's pain or sorrow.
The challenge of self-compassion
Forgiveness can be the ultimate expression of compassion, but the truest test is whether you can extend this love to yourself.
Self-compassion is being your own best friend when life gets tough. Compassion for others is this same concept. Without compassion for yourself, it can be difficult to show that compassion to others. Changing the words you say to yourself to kinder, softer, more positive words that support and nurture, gives you the internal comfort you may need to heal and move forward into a life of deeper compassion. By practicing self-compassion, we can improve our mental wellbeing, build our inner strength, cultivate resilience, and spread more love into the world.
Self-love and compassion in your yoga practice
Practicing yoga grants us many opportunities for exploring self-compassion. Self-compassion is not merely a state of being or a quality; it's a practice and we learn it through experience. During yoga and meditation, we learn to observe and befriend the body and mind-- developing self-awareness.
Yoga is a self-devotional practice to connect to yourself with movement and breath. One of the simplest ways to develop self-compassion is through breath awareness. The breath mirrors the mind and emotions. Bringing self-compassion towards our bodies and our minds in yoga can train us to use these skills off the mat.
When you notice your body is feeling tighter than usual or that your arms feel weaker than usual and you start to feel frustrated during a yoga class, we can slow down, acknowledge the thoughts, reconnect with our breath, and gently replace the negative thoughts with a softer conversation.
As mentioned in our last blog, setting an intention, such as self-love and compassion during your time on the mat can lead to a more fulfilling life of love, healing, and kindness. At the beginning of a class take a few extra moments to ground, connect to your breath and set your intention with Michelle to find a deeper level of self-love and compassion for those around you.
Next time you jump onto your mat try practicing...