In Yoga Philosophy, the principle of Ahimsa means no harm, no injury, non-violence. It encompasses how we are meant to treat all living beings, including ourselves. It also pertains not only to our actions but to our thoughts as well.
Ahimsa comes from the first limb of the eight limbs philosophy in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is the Yamas. The yamas set the base from which all the other limbs follow, a starting point to guide us on our journey towards the eighth and final limb of Samadhi - the integration of our individual selves with our highest consciousness or enlightenment.
In between these first and final limbs are asana and pranayama, so ahimsa is meant to be considered when we are doing our actual yoga practice. How might this apply to our individual practice on the mat? At first it might seem that it just means not to overdo something and be mindful of where we push ourselves. But it applies to our thoughts as well, so even if we are able to do poses "perfectly" without physical harm, we want to be mindful about where our attention is as we practice. Are we focused on getting the pose exactly right? Or are we concerned about how well we're doing in relation to others in the class? These are distractions that can come up for all of us, distractions that get to be noticed and reflected upon so that we can bring our focus back to the present moment.
Outside of our yoga practice, ahimsa can apply to all aspects of our lives including our relationships, the food we eat, and the thoughts w