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The first limb of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga is Yama, or Universal Morality. There are five yamas and the first is ahimsa, or nonviolence and compassion for all living things.

I like this.

I do my best to practice ahimsa in my life. I am vegetarian, I almost never kill bugs and I paid extra to “upgrade” the leather interior of my car to faux-leather.

The other day, I opened up the door to let the dog outside and a mouse ran in. He just ran in, scurried around my kitchen for a second and disappeared under my stove.


My house was warm and full of food and a very hospitable home for a mouse. He was never going to leave voluntarily.

Have you ever tried to buy a humane mouse trap? It’s not easy. We went to several stores and stood in front of arrays of traps with an impressive assortment of killing techniques. There were back-breaking traps and traps with poison and glue and traps that somehow spun the mouse to death.

We were laughed at when we asked where the humane traps were.

I really wanted to just relocate this little rodent, not spin him into oblivion. But after going to several stores, I got kind of acclimatized to the slaughter. Maybe this is just what you do? Maybe a mouse in my house just needs to be killed? I was worried about diseases the mouse might be bringing, or how it might bite the dog or run across my dinner table while my parents were visiting.

Killing the mouse seemed to be the socially acceptable way of dealing with the problem. Maybe, in this situation, ahimsa was just too annoying. Perhaps violence was called for.

Finally, at the third store, we found it. A humane trap that just caught the mouse without killing it. But, would it work?

It did. Perfectly. In just one night. We released the mouse into a field where he ran over Husband’s shoe in celebration and thanks, and then went off into tall, mouse-friendly grasses.

So, the lesson here for me was that yes, compassion and non-harming can require more effort and yes, people will laugh at you for asking for a humane trap at the Tractor Supply store, but it’s still worth it. Knowing that we went the extra mile to not harm a life – that feels really great. That is living my yoga.

And really, the mouse looked much cuter scampering across the field than it did in my kitchen.

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