In the world of yoga and yoga philosophy there are the Yamas and Niyamas found in the Yoga Sutras. For a yoga practitioner these come before the asana and are ethical, moral, social guidelines on the way you live. Although the Yoga Sutras were written between the second century BCE and the fifth century CE, they are still astoundingly relevant today particular in todays world.
The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa and translates as non-violence. This means treating yourself and all living things with compassion and kindness. On a practical level this may be not gossiping about others, only speaking kind truthful words. For some it could lead to becoming a vegetarian or vegan. Others may see it as helping others whether through charitable ways or just looking in on an elderly neighbour.
On your yoga mat it translates to practicing the yoga that is right for you at that time. If you’re exhausted from running around and looking after the family then a hot vinyasa flow class is not what you need, try a restorative or yin class. If you’ve been feeling stressed or anxious then a Hatha class could do you the world of good. If on the other hand you feel a bit sluggish and maybe the dark days and cold are getting  to you, then a wam or hot yoga class could be just what you need.
Whichever class you choose to attend once you are on your mat don’t look around to see how far your neighbours heels can go in downward dog. Stay focused on yourself and on your mat and remember to be kind to yourself. Something that feels achievable on your mat one day isn’t always possible on another.
With this in mind I would like to share two advent calendars I came across yesterday through Action for Happiness. One for adults and the other for children, both encourage kindness and gratitude and they are a lovely antidote to all the overindulgence at this time of year:
P.S. You can find more from Caroline aka The Yoga Crow over on Facebook.
P.P.S. Cool yoga illustration is of course by the immensely lovely Alison Soye!

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