Yamas (Restraints) and Niyamas (Observances) are the first two limbs of the Eight Limbed path laid out in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
The first yama is Ahimsa – Non Violence. Non Violence unites you with the whole creation. Everything is part of yourself and since you do not harm yourself, how can you harm anything? A practice of not harming anything and realizing that everything is a part of you is Ahimsa.
What is the effect of ahimsa? Patanjali Maharishi gives a beautiful explanation in
If you are established in non-violence, in your very presence, violence will be dropped by other creatures. For example, someone comes to attack you. As soon as they come near you, because your vibrations are totally nonviolent, they drop down. They stop being violent. Lord Mahavira emphasises on ahimsa. It is said that whenever he walked, twenty kilometers around him, people would stop being violent. The story goes even to that extent and says even the thorns would not prick anybody but would instead become soft.
Ahimsa gives rise to tolerance.
Have you ever felt like hitting somebody? Why is that violence arising in your mind? What is the source of the violence? As you watch the source of violence, you will see that violence disappears, dissolves and peace dawns. Yoga brings that inner peace which in turn establishes non-violence. Practice of non-violence is two-way traffic. Ahimsa or non -violence brings about the union of the mind or peace of mind and when you are peaceful or calm within, you naturally become non-violent.
[Source: Sri Sri Ravishankar’s column in Indian Express]