Do You Want A Yoga Body Or Yoga Mind?
Practicing Aparigraha: 5 Tips to Travel Lightly
In the west, it can sometimes seem like a yoga body is a more desirable destination than a yoga mind. It certainly gets more press, graces more magazine covers and sells more stuff. Buying fancy yoga pants and dripping in mala beads can seem like the easy road to enlightenment, but if you take a look at the original road map, you might see that things have gotten a bit off course.
The yoga sutras are sort of an old school atlas. A confusing tool compared to modern GPS, but still a valid means for getting directions. And just as there can be many ways to get where you are going, the sutras offer us eight ‘limbs’ to work toward union of mind and body, or ‘Yoga’. Each uses a slightly different mode of transport, but they still essentially end up at the same place.
One of these eight limbs is Yama, or ‘proper travel etiquette’ if you will. These guidelines for behavior toward others are further divided into 5 main practices:
Ahimsa [a-him-sah] (non-harming)
Satya [sat-yah] (truth)
Asteya [a-stey-yah (non-stealing)
Brahmacharya [bra-ma-char-yah] (continence)
Aparigraha [a-par-ee-grah-ha]. (non coveting)
One Yama in particular is getting tough to navigate in our disposable, land-fill-clogging, Amazon Prime world. ‘Stuff’ and our attachment to it make the road to practicing Aparigraha a rough one.
Instead of sitting and observing our thoughts, we might fill up that space with ‘things’. Instead of being ok with the journey, we are focused on how we look during the trip. Instead of coasting with gratitude and understanding that physical objects are only temporary, we assign value to our life based on how big our pile is.
Few would argue that ‘you can’t take it with you,’ so why do we feel the need to own and covet material possessions?
How do we downsize to just what is needed? Here are five alternate routes to explore:
I love my life!
A close friend and yoga teacher recently stated this out loud and I found it both enchanting and inspiring.
It seems so easy and goofy to say, but so darn hard to really mean.
We humans instinctively want the newer model with the shinier paint job and the faster engine, right? But if this jalopy you got now is getting you from A to Z, be cool with that.
Be ecstatic about it! Say it out loud when you’re alone and move on to saying it in front of somebody else. (Make sure it relates to the conversation you’re having or they may think you are a bit nutty.)
Purge with Purpose
Getting rid of junk in your closet, garage, attic, purse, etc. is cathartic for a reason. These things burden us.
Our ancestors were all nomads at one point and that lizard brain memory wants to know why you have so much baggage.
Really, Really Recycle
I know you put your plastic bottles in the bin and maybe have a compost heap but what about everyday uses for things you throw away? Change up your décor, move stuff around.
A new location for a beloved tchotchke can make it seem new. Out of tchotchkes? Get crafty with bottles or newspaper or an old shirt. Stop just collecting Pinterest images and create something that makes someone smile.
We spend a lot of money on clothes. We do a lot of horrible things to keep clothing cheap. If you are doing solely fair trade and diapering your baby in used socks, then more power to you.
However if you find it challenging to pass by the clearance rack, think about having a swap party instead. Invite friends, they bring their gently used stuff, you drink wine and shop each other’s cast offs for free.
Again our lizard brain that ‘needs stuff’ is hushed and you have not added to the economy of environment-destroying, human-rights-annihilating sweat shops. Baby steps.
We like to make grand, sweeping statements of thanks for things like the health of our entire family, unbounded success in our career or the undying love of a spouse or partner.
How about narrowing your gratitude down and making it more manageable? You obviously had some disposable time to read this goofy little yoga blog.
How awesome is that? If you are reading it on some device like a smart phone or computer, wow, that is pretty great. I mean, the fact that you can read period is pretty amazing compared to much of the global population.
We take so many little things for granted while focusing on the big race. Slow down, look closely and see how much you already have to be thankful for.
Now, no one expects you to relinquish all of your worldly possessions and live in a cave, but small changes can help you let go of the need for material objects. Slowing the circle of ‘work, earn, spend’ allows you to have time for reflection and time for breath.
It can be a difficult journey to the full expression of Aparigraha, but some simple changes can start you down the right road.
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