Embrace yourself and others with love and respect

Ahimsa is the guiding light of all the Yamas, which asks us to live in our true nature. Above all, this first tenet is about compassion. It reminds us that if we are not compassionate toward ourselves, then it is not possible to have true compassion for others.

After my injury, I felt slow, stupid, inhibited, and constantly confused. I didn’t understand who I was without my strong memory, confidence, and sense of the world, and I berated myself every chance I got. I wasn’t gentle. I wasn’t kind. And, my thoughts were often abusive. In trying to understand my injury and find resilience, I had also declared war on myself with unattainable expectations and comparisons to who I was before. I wanted to get better immediately. And, was consistently hard on myself when I didn’t.

Loving kindness starts in our own hearts, and is an opportunity we are given every time we look in the mirror, with each step we take forward, and with every breath we take. Each breath is an invitation to practice Ahimsa. Every moment offers a chance to shower ourselves with love. Healing happens when we provide a loving container for it.

Wrap yourself in Ahimsa:

  • Take a seated position, finding a tall spine.
  • Close your eyes.
  • As you inhale, open your arms wide out to the sides, pulling your shoulders back, broadening across your chest, and slightly lifting your chin.
  • As you exhale, bring your arms in, giving yourself a big hug as you round your spine and tuck your chin.
  • Repeat these movements linked with your inhales and exhales 5 more times. Alternate the arm that is on top each time you hug yourself.
  • Come to stillness with your thumbs linked, the palms of your hands on your chest, and your fingers spread wide.
  • End this short practice by saying something kind to yourself.