The Gandhian term ahimsa literally means non-violence. In Hinduism and in our yoga practice, ahimsa is the foundation—the way in which our bodies are meant relate to the world around us. We believe the by practicing non-violence in the way we behave toward all creatures, animals and humans alike, as well as toward the environment, is the first step toward adopting a pure yoga practice.
First and foremost, in yoga the concept of ahimsa is usually applied to food—what we put in our bodies has consequence both for how we feel but also what we do to the world around us. Truly practicing nonviolence means practicing vegetarianism and respecting the lives of all creatures. It also means not gorging ourselves of processed and impure foods. While the latter is completely easy even during pregnancy, the former is especially challenging. I am 90% vegetarian, but I also struggle with iron deficiency. I find myself craving fish and chicken, and I see that as a way in which my body is telling me to consume iron. I instead try to consume other foods high in iron—spinach, lentils, tofu, etc, but I am caving. I’m allowing myself to have meat once in a week, and I find I feel better even though I have guilt for stepping out of ahimsa practice.
Moreover, there are most certainly those days in which I convince myself that Ben and Jerry’s is a food group. And I’m sure both Ben and Jerry would be supportive of ahimsa, right?
Finally, ahimsa and pregnant mood swings—we are supposed to respect and love those around us, and nonviolence also means not taking out our moods on those around us. I try my best, and I do love my husband for his patience. This is one place where I’m thankful for the practice. It helps to regulate the moodiness.