Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
I’ve always felt this is a great guideline that helps me practice compassionate communication in line with the yogic principle of ahimsa, or non-harming.
It’s a great way to keep myself in check when I want to express myself, and it’s also something I come back to when I notice my thoughts taking a turn for the negative.
Practicing ahimsa toward myself is loads more challenging than practicing it toward others.
I have a list that keeps me in check when I’m on the yoga mat, too. Before I take a deeper variation of a pose, I ask myself the following questions:
1. Is it safe? Is there a greater possibility of causing harm to myself by going deeper in the pose?
2. Is there more room in my body? Does going into a deeper expression of the pose make my body feel better?
3. Can I keep a smooth, deep, and easy breath pattern if I go deeper?
4. Will going deeper compromise the integrity of the pose? Will it compromise my personal integrity? Would I be able to tell if it did?
5. Am I doing it for the right reasons? Will taking a different expression of the pose help me understand something about myself? Or am I doing it to impress someone or feed my ego?
The most common injuries (both internally and externally) come from some form of point 5. You may often hear an instructor remind you to "check your ego at the door." This is always something to come back to when you are practicing.
It's called a "practice" because it is always changing, and you are always changing.
Remind yourself of the reason(s) you are practicing and ask and answer honestly. It is the practitioner that listens to their body and takes child's pose when needed, instead of deeper in a pose, that has gone the deepest within themselves.