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Confessions on a yoga mat

It is one of those days; an off start to the day thanks to the toddler who woke up with the worst mood as she refused to sleep until 10 p.m. last night. That was what I needed with hormones roaming crazily in my body. So, this is a perfect day to write about ahimsa.

I recently started rereading Iyengar’s Light on Yoga. It got me thinking again on the concept of ahimsa. Ahimsa is one of the ethical disciplines on the path to enlightenment mentioned by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. It is actually one of my favorites, for me the most difficult one. Ahimsa means non-violence. That is the fundamental principle of vegetarianism for yogis. Well it is more than that. As Iyengar put it beautifully “It is more than a negative command not to kill, for it has a wider positive meaning, love. This love embraces all creation for we are all children of the same Father-the Lord.” As a person who believes that love is the only truth I cherish what Iyengar said except for the next part.

Iyengar continues to his explanations by saying “The yogi puts the happiness of others before his own and becomes a source of joy to all who meet him.” Oh hellooooo, I know Iyengar was a man and it was Mrs Iyengar whose hands were full with house chores and kids, not him. So I don’t blame him for writing this but if he were to spend only a week doing what Mrs I. was doing he would reconsider this unfortunate statement. Instead he would probably write “The yogi doesn’t put the happiness of others before his own because those who do that become depleted and bitter and eventually start resenting others.” A fellow yogini friend called me a few days ago almost in tears. She was clearly suffering from mommy burn out. I spent half an hour explaining how she should create some time for herself, how she herself matters as well. She owed herself to do her best to be happy and it is not because it will make her daughter happy but just because it was her duty as a human being, to be happy. We all have an obligation to do the best in our lives and best doesn’t mean earning lots of money or creating a masterpiece. It simply means being happy and having joy in our lives.

My next and biggest objection is to this “The yogi believes that for a wrong done by himself, there should be justice, while for that done by another there should be forgiveness.” Well I beg to differ. If the other person deserves forgiveness why wouldn’t I? Let me tell you something; I am beating myself up on a daily basis anyway and this started long before I started practicing yoga. I am judgmental, unforgiving and mean when it comes to me. Why? Maybe I was convinced that I could only be loved when I do perfectly, so I love myself conditionally. I don’t know but I know one thing for sure; that I don’t want to live like this. When I look around I realize that I am not the only one. Most of us are like this; we are prone to self-destructive habits (beating yourself up is one them). We keep punishing ourselves for the things we did over and over again. We can’t accept ourselves therefore we don’t love ourselves. We are violent towards ourselves. Particularly when you are a mother this gets worse as it seems that you have more to disapprove.

Why can’t we say that we matter as much as our kids but it’s always someone else who says it? Why focus on the shortcomings and mistakes but love? Let’s end this. Let’s take a step forward towards self-acceptance and self-love. Just count 5 good things that you did today, that made you proud. Start seeing how beautiful you are; open your heart to yourself. It’s one small step for mankind but a giant leap for youJ

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