The First Rule Of Yoga: Don't Be A Jerk

As we get closer to teaching the philosophy portion of our teacher training, I thought it would be nice to share some yoga philosophy on the blog too.

A god place to start is with ahimsa, or non-violence. It's the central precept of much Eastern philosophy, including yoga. It’s also very very difficult to practice. Sigh.


It's such a huge thing, it's hard to know where to even start. Do you choose to practice vegetarianism in order to limit harm to animals? What if being a vegetarian makes you anaemic? Or if, like the Tibetan Buddhists, it's necessary to eat meat in order to get enough nutrients? Does that mean you are being violent?

What about ethical clothing? For example, is the manufacturer of your cute yoga pants a signatory of the Bangladesh Safety Accord if they manufacture there? Hint: lululemon is not. Very disappointing.

Closer to home, are you doing right by your family? In complicated situations, is it even that easy to tell what right is? Gak.

Overwhelming. I think that, basically, it comes down to this: don't be a jerk.

How to practice ahimsa in daily life - mm…Yoga!

We all balance morals and pragmatism on a daily basis. Do so consciously, and you have a far greater chance of non-jerky behaviour! 

Compassion from the Dalai Lama - mm…Yoga!

Here are some interesting questions for self-reflection or journaling:

  • Am I able to feel compassion in every situation? (And be compassionate with yourself as you answer this. Most of us -all? - can't muster empathy every single time.)
  • If not, what triggers me to close up or start acting like a jerk? (Hint, you know you are acting like a jerk when you feel you need to JUSTIFY what you are doing).
  • If I felt a little more removed from the situation would that help me feel more compassion?
  • Do I act in the world to alleviate suffering? Do I practice compassionate giving?
  • Am I able to be compassionate with myself?
  • Do I understand the difference between compassionate giving and inappropriate handouts/help that makes people less able to help themselves?
  • Could I do more?
  • What would need to happen for me to be willing to?
  • Do I have a cause close to my heart? Do I put effort into it? 

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