Summer is here! Time for fun, sun and cooling down with some Moon salutations. Yes, they have those, too. And to me, the funnest and tastiest time of year to be a vegetarian. Guacamole, salsa, sorbets, potato salad, grilled veggies. But here's the deal, I self-admittedly do not stick to this lifestyle year-round. It's a rollercoaster of temptations, cravings, and well, sometimes it just comes down to options. We're so spoiled here in Austin. Try ordering an double shot almond milk latte in Miami. It ain't happening. Ok, so my point here is not to make a case for vegetarianism, but it is one of the ways I practice ahimsa. You know, ahimsa, the act of non-violence. As a new yoga teacher, I'm hyper aware of my thoughts and actions; I mean, if I teach the stuff, I should be living it. Vegetarianism is such a literal interpretation of ahimsa, but probably the one that fuels the most debate among yogis, animal rights activists and the ecologically-minded.
Reality is, ahimsa stretches far beyond what goes in our bellies. According to Sri Swami Sivananda, "Ahimsa or non-injury, of course, implies non-killing. But, non-injury is not merely non-killing. In its comprehensive meaning, Ahimsa or non-injury means entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand". When I read this I thought "Whoa, I have some work to do". We're probably the hardest on ourselves, beating ourselves up for the little things. Or it might come out as a judgement or criticism, or even a reaction to someone else's bad day. In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda's teacher Sri Yukteswar scolds him for only thinking of killing a mosquito. Just the thought was damage enough. So, when I get hard on myself for cheating on a diet every now and then, I remind myself that ahimsa practice is actually a practice of the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love.
Sure, I probably shouldn't have had that fish taco, but it's twice as harmful to then beat myself up about it the rest of the weekend. Live, learn, love. And move on!