Fire Life

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr….The Yoga Way!

By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle

Give Something, Learn Something, Teach Something, Commit to Something, and Dream Something.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the American Civil Rights Movement achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in 13 years than the past 350 years had produced.  Dr. King is regarded as one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.

He drew inspiration from his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Ghandi, leading a nonviolent movement in the late 1950s and ’60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States.  While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” Martin Luther King Jr. used the power of words, peaceful protests, and grassroots organizing to achieve seemingly impossible goals.

The fundamentals of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence are described in his first book Stride Toward Freedom:

The Six Principles of Nonviolence

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

Be actively resistant to evil, aggressive spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.


2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.

The result of nonviolent individuals is redemption and reconciliation,

to create the Beloved Community.


3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.

Evildoers are also victims, and not evil people.  Aim to defeat evil, not people.


4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.

Suffering without retaliation, unearned suffering is redemptive and transformative.


5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.

It resists violence of the spirit and body, nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish, and creative.


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

Having a deep faith that justice will eventually win, believing that God is a God of justice.    


Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.”

Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer o



In Yoga we practice nonviolence “Ahimsa.”  Martin Luther King Jr. was a Yogi.  He was the change he wanted to see, he had a dream.  This month, let’s honor Martin Luther King Jr.  Give something to a family member, friend, or charity.  Learn something new, teach someone something that has helped you, a breathing technique, a meditation, a song of love or a poem of peace, whatever has brought joy to your heart.  Commit to do something good for someone, and dream of something you desire…


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.


Live your Yoga On and Off the Mat.  Practice Nonviolence, take time to meditate, and stay present in the moment, and share the gifts of your yoga with those around you!