Ahimsa (Leave No Trace)

When is the last time you went on a hike (or stopped to smell the roses)?

If you're a regular nature-goer, you may be familiar with the aphorism "Leave No Trace". This adage reminds us to step lightly, clean up after ourselves, and be aware of how our actions will impact the living systems around us both in the present moment and in the future. Leave No Trace is asking us to take care of where we are.

Ahimsa, the first yogic virtue, also invites us to take care. Ahimsa is literally translated as "non-violence" or "non-harm". We know through personal experience the delights of acting with care. On a hike we place our feet where they won't get tripped up by tree roots. We slow down enough to appreciate the details of individual snowflakes or marvel at the clarity of water in a stream. And we occasionally are struck with the urge to stop in our tracks just to listen to the wind that streams over the surface of the planet connecting us all.

Ahimsa means being thoughtful with our bodies, open with our hearts, and connected through our spirits. The simplest way to do that in an asana practice is to slow your breath.

You can always make the choice to slow down, delight in the details of your body, and zoom out on the thought loops running in your head. Today, choose to let go of judgement and fear of doing things "right". And ask yourself: am I treading lightly?

Fear and anxiety often creep into our lives in various forms. Will I be good enough as a friend, a parent, a co-worker? If we use yoga to peel back the layers of our fear we seed the beautiful seed it grew from: care. We care about doing the right thing and about having a happy quality of life.

Leave No Trace invites us to practice that care. This means not only tread lightly, but also leaving a place better than when we found it. Hopefully your care can pick some of your internal "rubbish"!

When the we all practice care, the world only becomes more readily beautiful.
Slow down. Take care. Practice ahimsa.

Easier said than done :)


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