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8 Limbs of Yoga

Nurture Ahimsa (Non-Harming) on the Mat

Use asana, mantra, mudra, and meditation to incorporate ahimsa into your yoga practice and bring into focus its unique lessons.

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Incorporate ahimsa (non-harming) into your yoga practice with an asana, mantra, and mudra to help bring into focus the subtle and not-so-subtle ways the yama plays out in your life.

Ahimsa translates to “non-harming” or “non-violence” and guides us to live in a way that cultivates a sense of peace with ourselves and the world around us. To incorporate ahimsa into your own life and practice, start with the pose, mudra (hand-and-finger gesture), and mantra (a sacred utterance repeated continuously) below. Do this practice on its own, add more poses with the accompanying 10-minute video sequence, or link all of the yamas and niyamas together, one pose as a time, forming a sequence.

See also “Does Ahimsa Mean I Can’t Eat Meat?”

Ahimsa Yoga Practice

Hold the pose, with its mudra, for 3–5 breaths, mindfully chanting, aloud or internally, its accompanying mantra.

Discovering the Yamas and Niyamas.

Asana: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)

From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), step your right foot to your right hand. Lower your back heel at a 30-degree angle and root through both feet as you lift the upper body away from the right leg. Stack the shoulders over the hips and gaze forward. 

coral brown, ahimsa-padma-mudra

Mudra: Padma (Lotus Mudra)

Bring your hands together at your heart with fingers apart, in the gesture of Padma (Lotus) Mudra. Draw inspiration from the purity and perseverance of the lotus flower floating above the muddy waters of desire, fear, and attachment—the feelings that cause us to lash out at others or ourselves.

Meditation: Warrior Energy

As you feel your physical body coming into alignment, meditate on the namesake of the pose—Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose I).Vira means “hero” or “warrior,” and bhadra means “with great virtue.” Apply the concept of non-harming with the fortitude and grace of a warrior. Attune your warrior energy toward the virtues of peace and non-harming of yourself, others, and the environment.

Mantra: Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

Chant Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (“May beings in all realms experience the feeling state of ease”) for three rounds.

Watch the video

To tie it all together or to deepen your work around ahimsa, try this peaceful 10-minute practice with Coral Brown.

Make it a sequence

To link these yama and niyama practices into one sequence, practice Warrior I (Ahimsa), Crescent Lunge (Satya), and Warrior III (Asteya) on the right side before moving to the left.

NEXT YAMA PRACTICE Satya (truthfulness)
RETURN TO Live Your Yoga: Discover the Yamas + Niyamas