5 Ways to Practice Ahimsa in Motherhood

We recently took a deep dive into the Mama Yamas, which make up the first limb, the foundation of the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood. There are 5 of them, so it was a lot of information to digest. But now that you have the high-level view of the Mama Yamas, we are going to spend the next week focusing on incorporating them into our lives, working them into motherhood one at a time. Because talking (or reading) about guidelines and practices is only part of the process, now it’s time to build these into our days as we move towards a more mindful approach to motherhood.

Beginning with the first Mama Yama, Ahimsa, which means non-harming and non-violence, here are 5 ways to weave this into your day and hopefully, eventually your life.

  1. Harm and violence manifest in many ways in our daily lives, and so often this is directed at ourselves. So often the most painful dialogue takes place within our own minds, directed inwardly. But before we can truly make mindful shifts in life, we first need to be aware of what we are shifting. So this week, be aware. Just be aware. Listen to the words you are speaking to yourself. Hear what it is that you say when you look in the mirror, when you make a mistake, when you feel like you fall short of your expectations. Just listen. Tune in. Be aware.
  2. And this internal dialogue also flows out to those around us. So this week, also be mindful of the words you speak. Be mindful of the intentions behind those words. Be aware of the negativity, the passive aggression, the hurt that likes to creep into our messages. Negativity spreads so quickly, but so does positivity. Spread positivity. Spread love. Begin with your words.
  3. Mothers so often harm themselves, completely unintentionally. In our quest to love those around us, to provide for them any and everything, we often neglect to do the same for ourselves. And this happens over and over, day after day. And then this becomes a habit. And then this becomes the norm. And then our entire self is being poured into those around us and nothing is coming back to fill us up again. Soon the well runs dry. This week, allow yourself to make yourself a priority. Start with something simple. Demand 10 minutes a day to do what you want. Read. Write. Walk. Sit in silence. Fill yourself back up again. Soon this will become a habit. Then it becomes the norm. Then you are filling yourself up, over and over again, and you have so much more to give.
  4. Every time we choose to eat, we are making a decision regarding Ahimsa, but rarely do we even notice it. Every time we buy food at the grocery store or cook dinner, we have an opportunity to practice non-harming. Food is the fuel that we live off of. As mothers, we are often so involved in this decision for our families. What are we eating? What are we feeding them? How is this nourishing us? How is this harming us? Be aware. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but at least begin to be aware of the decisions you are making here. So much of this can become auto pilot, bring awareness back into this. Make these decisions consciously. As you choose food this week, be aware. Notice your habits here. Notice how and why you are making the decisions you are.
  5. Find movement. This body is miraculous. It carries us through our days and provides for us in ways we don’t even notice. But it was made to move. These muscles want to reach and stretch. These joints want to bend. These bones don’t want to sit in stillness for too long. Bring movement back into your life in a way that nourishes your body. And move with your little ones. Let their little bodies stretch and roll and twist and move. If we make this a part of our days and then our lives, it becomes a part of theirs too. This week find 5 minutes each day to move with your little one. Dance to a song, run down the sidewalk, do yoga, play at the park, crawl through the grass. Anything, but do it once a day.

As you begin to weave this into your days, notice any changes, any shifts. Moving away from harm and violence into a life of Ahimsa requires effort. It means we have to shift our routines and change our habits. It means we have to find different ways to view the world and those around us. But it also means that we become a channel of love and peace, and that, after all, is such an important piece of navigating through motherhood consciously and mindfully.

Ahimsa in Motherhood