Today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., a visionary leader whose life and legacy was and is about equality, and a oneness amongst all people. MLK was a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, and in February of 1959, King traveled for the first time to India. Though Gandhi was no longer physically there, his influence was abundantly present. In a personal account of this trip, published by Ebony magazine in 1959, King writes how “the spirit of Gandhi is very much alive in India today.”

As we embark on our individual journeys into the new year, it is vital to remember that we are all also on a collective journey - bound together. King left India more convinced than ever that nonviolence was the key to bringing about real change. He writes, “the way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of nonviolence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”

MLK’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence, in essence, are what we all try to seek in our yogic practices. Collectively, they are similar to the yogic principle of ahimsa, or non-harm. Today, these principles are as important as ever to remember.

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

It takes a strong person to take the higher road when attacked, be it physically, verbally, or otherwise.. With yoga and meditation you can find the inner peace to handle the negativity around you in a peaceful way.

2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.

You may not practice yoga in the hopes of making new friends, but with it you will find yourself more able to listen to and understand yourself and the creatures around you. With understanding comes compassion, and a friendlier world.

3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.

Through meditation and the healing that comes with it, you are able to see that people need help - not just the ones who have been hurt, but also the ones doing the hurting. Healing is for everyone who seeks it because people need help, forgiveness, love – no matter what.

4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.

We are strongest in the places we have been broken.

5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.

Compassion and empathy are key components of nonviolence and ahimsa.

6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.