In Sanskrit, Aparigraha roughly translates to non-attachment or non-possessiveness. It is the last Yama in Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga.
It seems like this an important Yama to consider currently as we are faced with news of hoarding and protecting resources for fear of scarcity in society with winter looming. It teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right.
Why do we hoard possessions?
In our Western culture, we are constantly tempted to shop, buy and order. It's not our faults - the targeted marketing campaigns are far too clever and tempting nowadays!! Collecting and protecting physical resources becomes normal as we view them as finite and un-replenishable. We view physical possessions as indicators of wealth and status, and thus perhaps spend less time thinking about the non-physical gifts readily available to us.
If instead, we considered a bit more the gifts that are available in abundance, such as kindness, support, listening, talking and caring, then our life is bound to become richer in a much more meaningful and fulfilling way.
Practicing Aparigraha through yoga
We know that physical resources are not always abundant for everyone. Money is not. Food is not. Clothes are not. However, when you practice yoga, many of the most-prized resources are free and unlimited. Empathy, love, respect and positive energy are all renewable and abundant, and can be nurtured and shared through yoga.
We encourage our Go Yoga members to create a space of community when they enter our classes. So, start your class by making eye contact with others in the room, smiling at them and maybe even introducing yourself. Even during this isolation, our body language can make people feel connected to you and loved. Often your yoga teacher might also encourage you to smile during your practice. When we move in challenging ways, smiling might not always be the first expression that comes to mind, but try it next time you are in your arm balance and notice the difference it makes. We can all smile with abundance!
Don’t lose sight of the reason you came to yoga
You might turn up to your yoga class looking forward to practising, breathing and finding your way towards a more peaceful mind. However, midway through your practise, you might start to lose sight of the real reason you decided to come to yoga. You might catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you might see someone on the mat next to you reaching further than you, or you might be tempted to push yourself too far to impress your teacher. Sound familiar?
This is where the ‘non-greed’ and ‘non-attachment’ aspects come into play. We should try to un-attach ourselves to the thoughts about how we could be better, stronger, or how we could get into that standing balance faster. Instead, think just about being completely ‘here’. Don’t hold back on the effort and energy but resist the temptation to think about how you look or how you compare to others. Give knowing that there is nothing to resist and that there is always more to come.
Is it time you practised a bit more Aparighara in your life?