Thoughts from a newbie semi-veggie.
Months ago I stopped eating cow, chicken and pig.
I still eat fish but I feel that I won’t very soon.
It wasn’t a decision I made consciously. It wasn’t an affirmation or statement that I blurted at the dinner table. It was years in the making.
I’ve changed my diet so much during my yogic journey. First, I changed my eating schedule. I couldn’t eat for at least three hours before practice and if I had to eat something, I could only stomach fruit.
Then I noticed the lighter I ate, more vegetables and fruit and less meat and carbs, the better I felt in class especially in any power class.
Then, the food documentaries started rolling in about how animals are farmed for our food, how we abuse the land and are cutting down our natural resources and how a head of broccoli costs more than a fast food burger. My favorite by far is HBO’s The Weight of the Nation which confronts the obesity epidemic in this country.
I step on my mat to purify my body and mind and I started to see food the same way.
For me, changing my diet feels part of the evolution that the practice instills in a person.
In Yoga Mala, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois explains,
“How can we make the mind one-pointed so that we may see the universal self? This is what ashtanga teaches. The word ashtanga means eight limbs, or steps, and these comprise: yama; niyama; asana; pranayama; pratyahara; dharana; dhyana; and samadhi. The first limb, yama, has five parts and ahimsa comes first. Ahimsa translates to non-violence, non-harming in any action, thought or deed.”
My initial interpretation of ahimsa was vegetarianism.
Don’t eat animals and you will not have your hand in the process of how they are farmed for food.
There are some yoga schools that are super strict on being a vegetarian and then there are some teachers that have alternative ideas such as know where your food is coming from, only buy farm raised, organic.
We live in a place with lots of personalities who love to share their thoughts. I don’t mind hearing them because I remind myself to check in with my inner teacher to shed some light.
Something magical is happening in my understanding of ahimsa.
Ahimsa includes keeping our thoughts and deeds non-violent.
That could mean keeping our inner personal chit-chat and our daily actions clean from negative thoughts about other people, places, things. I know we have to be nice and kind to people.
I understand that in order to live in peace, we have to create peace. Lead by example and keep your temper at chilling temperatures.
As I start to practice ahimsa, first on a food level and then on a communication level, I am now on the part where I am practicing ahimsa on myself.
I know I can be my own worst enemy in every part of my life.
Whether it’s how I look, how smart I am, how I teach, how I breathe, how I dress, how I talk, how I even walk… geez. The list can go on and on and on and on. I am the one who is talking negatively about my own self. For every good, I find a bad.
That’s where ahimsa comes in.
Slowly I am catching myself.
I am catching the thoughts and actions that aren’t nourishing and watching them pass like a train in the night. I cannot be my enemy because then I’m screwed.
I cannot farm my own destruction.
I have to live with myself every second so I will never find true peace.
Ahimsa is teaching me how to treat myself and its part of my journey.
Thank you. Namaste.
Kate Kuss, a 600 hour RYT, is a graduate from numerous trainings at Pure Yoga in New York City, the studio where she continues to practice, teach and evolve. Forever a student, Kate continues to study the practice of yoga by gaining valuable knowledge from her teachers and passing it along to her students. Kate truly believes in the power of yoga and the transformation it creates in the body and mind. Check her out www.kyriacouyoga.com
Editor: Elysha Anderson