What is Ahimsa?

Ahimsa or non-violence is a lifestyle respectful of ALL – human beings, of animals and of nature. It is a lifestyle respectful of all beings including and starting with ourselves. 

Ahimsa is the first Yama in Patanjali’s The Yoga Sutra“. This book, a foundational text in yoga, is a collection of 195 Sanskrit sutras (or aphorisms) regarding the practice and the philosophy of yoga. 

In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease. Sutra 2:35.

Yamas, one of the 8 limbs of yoga, are self regulating behaviours. There are 5 ethical and moral principles to live by in relation to how we interact with the world. Being the first Yama, Ahimsa is the root of a spiritual practice. 

What is Ahimsa in English? How to translate Ahimsa?

The Sanskrit word Ahimsa is often simply translated as non-violence.

A: NO 


Therefore, ahimsa is the principle of non-harming; non-pain; non-violence; non-injury.

Ahimsa is gentle living and it teaches us the principle of non-violence.

The Meaning of Ahimsa in Turbulent Times

This first Yama is about being compassionate towards all living beings. It is an aura of peace that protects both self and others. 

It is an action of social and political fight that respects the adversary where we are invited to prevent from collaborating with injustice and lies while proposing a constructive alternate program. 

Ahimsa is the absence of harm – in thoughts, words, deeds and actions –  that undermines others’ dignity. It is therefore, the absence of violence or harm in physical, mental and emotional forms. 

We live in times where we can see evidence of unhealthy social relationships, of disenchantment and cynicism. To practice ahimsa in turbulent times, we need to practice love, kindness and respect in action. 

What is Ahimsa in Jainism?

The principle of Ahimsa is the cardinal virtue of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion. For Jains, Ahimsa is a way of life, an attitude. 

Mantras to Meditate

  1. Remember this simple, yet powerful mantra: Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to yourself. 
  2. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy and free).
  3. Ahimsa Meditation

Why do yogis become vegetarians?

A vegetarian diet is a non-violent diet since we choose not to harm non-human animals. It is caring for all beings. In Jivamukti Yoga, a style, derived from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, developed by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984, Ahimsa is one of the five essential principles. These schools promote lifestyles that respect the environment, animal rights and veganism.

What is ahimsa yoga? How to practice Ahimsa ON the mat?

  • Focus on mindfulness and on moving with intention.
  • Practice self love and dare to explore on the mat without judgement – Ahimsa in the Asana.
  • Respect your boundaries (strength, flexibility, balance) and listen to your body.

How to practice Ahimsa OFF the mat?

  1. Being Vegetarian or reducing your animal products consumption (read above);
  2. Being good to the Earth by creating relationship will all beings: Saint-Francis of Assisi followed and advocated the principle of ahimsa;
  3. Changing your internal dialogue: Face your own inner darkness through compassion, acceptance and love;
  4. Exploring negative thoughts and judgement towards others: Wishing harm or misfortune on others is not in line with ahimsa.

Be aware of our thoughts and the energy you send. Fill your heart with compassion and you will spread love.

How do YOU practice Ahimsa? How will YOU turn a negative situation or thought into a positive one?