In yoga we practice Ahimsa, meaning that we observe a state of non-harming towards everything around us. For many this results in a vegetarian diet and peaceful and kind approach to others, respect for the environment - living a 'good' life. However, do we always reflect this in the way we are with ourselves?
Having taught in numerous establishments with young people, both as a teacher and yoga teacher, I have been overwhelmed by the number who self-harm. As we always do, I initially thought 'it wasn't like that when I was younger' but actually I'm sure it was, just in different ways. This attitude carries forward, less drastically, into adult life. We harm our bodies with alcohol, drugs, unhealthy food, unhealthy relationships, stressful jobs, stressful thoughts. Some of these things may be a necessity but it seems that even self-care can become a system of punishment and reward - does the 5km run following the cake for tea sound familiar?
A very good friend of mine said to me a few years ago 'Don't be so hard on yourself, Nat' and it's always resonated. One of the things that drew me into yoga was the concept of Ahimsa, but I instantly saw it as a way to be kind to myself because, for years, I hadn't been. As I folded forward into Paschimotanasana I'd give my legs a little kiss. It was a funny ritual, but it worked. Slowly I found a way to love myself and even more slowly found someone who loved me too. As I find myself working more and more with young people I'm reminded of this. Ahimsa is about non-harming to everyone and everything, including ourselves.
So take a moment, straighten your legs out and fold over them and then slowly give your legs or your arms (wherever you can reach) a little kiss. Remind yourself that you love you. Trust me, it works!