Precept One of the Five Precepts of Buddhism is ‘to abstain from causing harm to living beings’, or as Patanjali names it, Ahimsa, or non-violence. Buddha’s core philosophy, the central tenet of Buddhism, says that life is Dukkha, or life is suffering, and that the cause of Dukkha is our desire. The Buddha says that life is suffering because it is impermanent and ever-changing, and our tendency to grasp at things, our attachment, or alternatively push them away, our aversion, places us fundamentally at odds with our own nature. It is the wanting of things to be other than they are that is the heart of our imprisonment.

So how can we alleviate our own suffering as a living being, our attachments and aversions, through the practice of non-violence, or Ahimsa? One idea explored by both Patanjali and Buddha himself is compassion, in particular self-compassion. Fortunately for us, yoga offers us an avenue for the exploration of self-compassion. We often have the most difficulty practicing compassion with ourselves, and all too often the source of our suffering is our own minds. I read a beautiful metaphor that says the mind is like vivid diamond, and over a lifetime this gleaming diamond gets dull, dirty, caked over by conditioned thoughts and the experiences we have. We lose touch with our inner excellence, the light inside, and perhaps don’t believe it even exists.

There may be times on the mat when we are completely distracted by our own thoughts; we may feel bored or restless, our hamstrings may be unyielding to our direction, or the person next to us has just executed the perfect wheel pose, a move which we have sought to attain for months. Witnessing the self through a tender and warm-hearted lens, we can reframe these ‘conditions’ so that we feel less reactive about happenings that we usually find provoking or distracting, and begin to not only accept, but savour our experience. Perceiving our practice through compassion give us the ability to support the body and mind, and over time, beyond this practice, we can begin to notice when we need to surrender, and we can become friends with surrender, great pals. We can trade our token hard-headed discipline we’re all too familiar with, and we can pursue the practice of loosening our grip.

About – Renee

My voyage into yoga began in Year 9 in High School when I opted for a Hatha Class for school sport to avoid doing any real exercise. While my intention was inspired by my apathetic teenager-ness, laying in savasana on the prickly carpet of the demountable classroom stirred something in me I could have never had anticipated – a great, big love for deep calm.

Yoga for me became the ‘still point of the turning world’, a place in which I could traverse the stress of everyday existence. My appreciation for quietude lead me to further explore and adopt meditation and mindfulness techniques as part of my everyday ritual, an integral component in my classes today.

My classes embody the idea of yoga as a ‘meditation in motion’. Drawing on my studies in Buddhist Meditation and Philosophy, students are guided to dive deep into present moment awareness with gentle, flowing movements married with the breath. Classes are an exploration in what it means to truly slow down, moving past the attainment of physical postures into a sense of ease that permeates life beyond the mat.

Join Renee at Ray of light for 5 weeks of Yoga and the five Buddhist Precepts starts Wednesday’s 7pm from 20th February.