I was a yogi before I ever laid out a mat and took an asana class. I was a vegan at heart before I ever made the realization that eating animals was only "normal" because tradition, society, and conditioning said so. I firmly believe that deep down, our true essence is that of compassion, peace, and love. We unfortunately stray from this truth as countless factors influence our lifestyle, and as we associate more and more with the mind, the body, and our life situation. Through yoga, literally meaning union, we re-realize our true nature, as we tame and silence the mind and begin to disassociate from the changing, false aspects of our being. We reunite with that absolute being that always existed and always will. Then, as our eating habits realign with who we really are, we create harmony and cultivate deeper inner peace and begin to spread it, as well.
Ahimsa, or the dynamic virtue of non-harming, is the first yama of Patanjali's ashtanga yoga, and rightfully holds the foundational role in one's spiritual process. To live deeply rooted in ahimsa means to recognize the oneness of all existence and to nurture and support life, rather than to neglect, disrespect, or end it. While ahimsa covers a very broad spectrum of ideals and actions/inactions, refraining from the consumption and exploitation of other sentient beings should be an obvious first step in realizing this virtue in your life.
There are many forms of yoga, and in my humble opinion, the practice of ahimsa may just be the most important. Yoga is much more than movement of the body and breath, but a lifestyle. The practice should continue throughout the entire waking day and influence all thoughts, words, and actions. Unfortunately, humanity suffers from a widespread case of cognitive dissonance, a dilemma in which eating habits and tradition contradict most individual’s actual ideals and morals. This disconnect is the ego vs the Self. Choosing the Self means choosing selflessness and consequently choosing a vegan lifestyle. Yoga is selflessness. Yoga is compassion. Yoga is love. Yoga is VEGAN!