“We spend our days badgered by voices that tell us to judge others, fear others, harm others, or hamrm ourselves. But we are not obligated to listen to those voices, or even to take responsibility for them. They may be where we come from, but they are not where we are going. There is another voice, a voice that shines. Ahimsa is the practice of listening to that voice of lightness, cultivating that voice, trusting that voice, acting upon that voice.” - Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat
In Type A Yoga, we search for opportunities to become more aware of the parts of our driven, often perfectionist personalities that both make us the people we want to be AND those pieces of ourselves that no longer serve us in work or life.
Instead of – as the name might at first imply – focusing on getting our postures to look like a yogini’s Instagram account OR trying to sweat our way to an intense workout by always pushing toward the maximum edge in every pose OR paying more attention to that critical voice inside our head than we are to what’s happening on our mat, Type A Yoga helps us slow WAY down, connect with our breath, and calm our mind enough to make intentional choices about how we treat ourselves on the outside and on the inside.
Through Type A Yoga, we have the chance to practice ahimsa. As the first yama – yoga’s moral restraints - ahimsa means non-violence or non-harming. In the Community Class this week at Durham Yoga Company, I asked my students to notice the ways in which self-harmful behavior may be showing up for them. Are they looking around the room and comparing themselves to others? Are they bending over in standing forward fold and listening to an interior critic that tells them they should be able to touch the floor by now? Are they ignoring that pinching feeling in their knee and staying in crescent lunge longer than is healthy for their body on this particular day?
Through this awareness on our mats we can re-connect to the present moment through our breath, let go of judgment and perfectionism, and shift our attention toward ahimsa. Practicing ahimsa with ourselves on our mats allows to personally fill-up enough to recommit to practicing ahimsa when we walk out into the world.