I killed a deer a couple of days ago. This Thanksgiving week, like the last Thanksgiving week and the ones before it for the last six years, I’ve visited my family in North Idaho and harvested a whitetail. Between my husband and I, we bring home enough meat to feed our little family throughout the year.
Spending time in the dense pines, thick underbrush, and quiet cedars realigns my priorities. It demonstrates the power in stillness and patience.
Observing the nuanced behavior of wildlife, particularly what is being hunted, is an act of respectful devotion. Learning the habits and preferences of animals in order to hunt them takes hours of time and study, an understanding of local landscape and ecosystems. Hunting provides a direct connection between my life and the life around me. It is not easy, or malicious.
Yet many people who practice the philosophy of yoga would not support hunting. They would not interpret killing an animal as respectful, connecting, or supportive to personal growth. Many yogis who disagree with hunting believe that it violates the Yama of ahimsa.
Ahimsa is the principle of non harming or non violence. It encourages us to avoid actions that hurt other life. Many yogis interrupt this as not eating other living creatures, not eating meat. Others interpret this as not taking any products from animals.
Others, however, view eating as locally and sustainably as possible as a way to do the least amount of harm to the living environment. There is a minimal carbon footprint for harvesting local game, and most hunters have much consideration for animals, shooting them to minimize any pain.
I am not arguing whether one interpretation of ahimsa is correct or incorrect, I’m talking out my own interpretation to shed light on how yoga encompasses each action on my journey and how I’m learning and evolving on the way.
Death is inevitable. Sustaining life with life is a noble and natural thing.