When I was thinking of what to write about this month I was having a hard time landing on a topic. As I continued to think on it one thing kept returning to my mind, aparigraha. I’ve been seeing this come up a lot in my own life, in conversations with friends and students and I’ve also been seeing it pop up online lately too. So here you go, aparigraha.
Aparigraha is the fifth of the yamas (moral guidelines for the practicing yogi) in Pantajali’s Sutras. It is the idea of non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-attachment. This practice of letting go can be as simple or dynamic as you are willing to let it be and it can be practiced on and off of your mat.
When we are on our mats practicing asana we can often have high expectations without even acknowledging it. Do you stop to honor your practice exactly where it is each time you come to your mat? Or do you find yourself comparing your practice today to your practice yesterday, to your neighbors practice or to where you want your practice to be tomorrow. When you release the expectations you place on your physical practice you allow yourself to begin to soak into the yoga and move beyond the physical to the mental, spiritual and emotional benefits of yoga. You can begin to cultivate a space of trust and acceptance within yourself that will allow you take this practice off of your mat.
Aparigraha can be practiced off of your mat in many ways. Physically you can create a minimalist lifestyle, free from clutter and hoarding. You can give freely of your possessions and resources. Mentally letting go can be a bit more difficult to get a handle on. Often we have ideas of how we would like our lives to go. We want certain things from our relationships, professions, home and social lives. But how often do our views of how we think things should be actually limit the greatness of what could be. When we create in our mind an idea of how any of these things can go we are creating the best, most ideal way we can create in our minds, but what if our greatest expectation is a limited version of what is actually possible. Can you let go of how you think it “should” be and trust in the greatness, sit back and watch it unfold, allow yourself to be in the center of the big unknown?
When you practice aparigraha on your mat it creates trust within the relationship you have with yourself. You let go, you create trust. When you step off of your mat this is multiplied. Through aparigraha you let go of expectations, obsessive thoughts, idealistic views and trust in your place in the big picture, allowing for the greatness to have room to unfold. It’s an ongoing circle of letting go and trust. The more you let go the more you build trust, the more you trust the easier it is to keep letting go. Happy releasing my friends.