Ahisma and the Yogic Diet

by Iva deMartelly


Ahisma is a concept widely under debate in the modern yoga world. 


In Sanskrit, the prefix of “A” means “not”, and “hisma” means “harming, injuring, killing, or doing violence.” Some yogis would generally translate this to among other things, the observance of a total vegan or vegetarian diet. If you are able to fit this into your life, it is a wonderful ethical and environmental measure! In our modern world, however, many people need small amounts of animal products to feel healthy, and to provide food for their family in an economically sustainable way. I believe that Ahisma could also be translated to not harming ones self, so if the strict adherence of a vegetarian diet would cause yourself harm, then I encourage you to find the path that best suits you.


Below is a list of ways to practice Ahisma in relation to food that can fit into most lifestyles!


1.Try to reduce your animal product consumption. A recent infographic found that Americans eat at least 12 ounces of meat per day- that’s almost 50 percent more than the recommended daily amount! Not only is this unhealthy for our bodies, it is unethical, and harms the environment. Try participating in meatless mondays, or replacing some meat based meals with plant based protein sources, like nuts, edamame, tofu, and beans!


2.   When possible, if you are buying meat try to buy from local small farms, where you know how the animals are treated, and or buy cage free, free range, and grass-fed products. 


3. Try to buy in season produce when possible! Not only will you be eating fresher, more nutrient dense produce, but you will be reducing your environmental footprint. If you buy produce out of season, it means that a lot of natural resources were used up to provide refrigerated storage and gas to transport the produce from wherever it was grown.


4.  Give thanks! An ex vegan, it took me a very long time to come to the terms that my body needed animal products to function properly. When I am consuming them, I try to always give thanks for whatever sacrifice the animal had to make for me, and make a conscious promise to use that fuel to contribute to the world in a positive way.


5.  Take care of yourself. In a hectic life, it is easy to forget, or lose time for nourishing our bodies with healthy, fresh food. This is sad, because it is one of the most important things we can do for a long, happy life! Try and take the time to nourish your body- whether that is in the form of a quick smoothie packed with fruits and vegetables, a home cooked meal with your family, or even a quick green juice- to - go, your body will thank you!


Hope you guys have a happy, healthy, consciously aware week!




the Shake It® Team 


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