Yogis are called to non-violence. The whole of the ethical precepts in Yoga is predicated on ahimsa.  “Shanti,” a word in Sanskrit which means “peace” is probably related to the Hebrew word “shalom” (shah-LAWM) or the Arabic “salaam” (suh-LAHM.) It is definitely related to the sound “shhhh,” a sound we make when we want to quiet a baby; a sound that can be both soothing and directive. It is a sound we should collectively use toward pundits and politicians when they bicker about inane things while our world desperately needs more mature discourse.

During the 20th Century we experienced the most devastating wars in history. World wars, cold wars, a sharp rise in civilian casualties and weapons never before imagined shook our most basic securities. Yet, it was also the century of great peace movements. Mahatma Gandhi won a war against the British Empire based on ahimsa, non-violence. Dr. Martin Luther King defied the Jim Crow laws with Christian love and non-violence actions. Solidarity in Poland and freedom fighters in Czechoslovakia helped bring down the Soviet Union with non-violence.  Demark defied the Nazi regime in the 1940s with nonviolence. They each said shhh to the forces that seemed, at the time, to be overbearing.  Yet the power they possessed and used far outreached the force of these regimes. Their foundations reached far deeper and were more grounded in a solid sense of Self. These people were grounded in who they truly are.

Many Yogis chant Om Shanti before meditating. It is a way to shush the mind which does it beautiful work of thinking, but with the switch always left on the mind over thinks,  over plans, over analyses, over litigates, over judges, parses and markets. Nothing we can do about the mind thinking, but if we live solely in the realm of thought we live solely in the calculating part of ourselves and lose our ability to perceive and sense the world around us.

In Hatha Yoga the Warrior postures begin to take shape when we are firmly grounded; our feet solidly planted and the inner ankles lifting. This is the first action before we move into the openness of the posture. In Warriors One and Two the front part of the body, our most vulnerable area, is wide open. Warrior Three we stand on one well-grounded foot, stretch back the other leg and foot, then lean forward making ourselves vulnerable.  The mind will squabble about certain aches and wobbles as we enter this strengthening posture and that is a good thing, because in the mind is where Yoga really happens. We tell the mind “sssshhh” so we can be true to our experience and ground ourselves in our authentic being. We say “sssshhh” in a gentle manner. Here he start the practice of non-violence