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Ahimsa | The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The first limb of yoga is Yama, which consists of 5 sub-limbs. The first sub-limb is Ahimsa.

Ahimsa translates to non-violence. The meaning of Ahmisa is much more than this literal translation.


Non - violence refers to the non-violent actions, words and thoughts we share with ourselves, with others and with the environment. It's key to note that non-violence is not just the absence of violence, but also the presence of kindness.

Ideas for practicing ahimsa

Towards ourselves:

  • quietening the inner critic

  • speaking to ourselves with love

  • listening to what our bodies need

  • not pushing through pain where it harms us

  • taking care of ourselves

  • having boundaries

  • meeting your basic needs, like eating healthy food and sleeping well

Towards others:

  • speaking kindly to others

  • treating others with respect

  • engaging in acts of kindness

  • practicing empathy

  • resolving conflicts peacefully

Towards the environment:

  • not littering

  • recycling/upcycling

  • reducing waste - opt for no/low packaging goods

  • walking, cycling or taking public transport

  • gardening - taking care of your own little patch of green can increase your appreciation towards our natural world

  • plant a tree (did you know, with each 1:1 service you buy from Neetu Yoga, we donate towards the planting of one tree with One Tree Planted)

  • promoting and supporting sustainable living

This sub-limb is also the basis for so many yoga practitioners choosing to be vegan. Not all yoga practitioners are vegan, by personal preference or due to dietary need. However, it is another way that ahimsa can be practiced.


A mantra that I feel closely supports ahimsa is 'Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu'. This translates to 'May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all'. This mantra is and has always been the mantra I create my offers on and one way I try to live the values of yoga through my offers to you.

Exercises for you think about your own ahimsa practice

Exercise One: identifying areas which could benefit from more awareness and action

  • What ways do you currently practice ahimsa? Break this down into three categories: towards yourself, towards others and towards the environment.

  • Which area requires more attention?

  • What would you like to do to practice ahimsa in this area more?

Exercise Two: notice how balanced your practice of ahmisa is - is it predominantly preventing acts of harm, or is it also actively practicing acts of kindness.

  • In saying no to things that are bad for you, are you also saying yes to things that are good for you?

  • In not speaking unkind words, are you also speaking words of kindness?

  • In not harming the earth, are you also acting to preserve or enhance it?

Focus on practice, not perfection

The key word here and with all aspects of yoga is 'practice'. The human existence is messy and non-linear. You won't ever be able to perfect every aspect of life. So take the suggestions and what arises from your own journaling prompts as a gentle nudge to practicing ahimsa, rather than trying to do it all. That, too, is Ahimsa.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this sub-limb. Equally, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

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