The Yamas in Practice: Let It Go with Aparigraha

Mother nature.jpg

My absolute favorite time of the year is this transition from winter to spring. It is almost as if Mother Nature cannot quite make up her mind what to do: hold on to cold/ snow/ clouds or open up to sunshine/ warmth/ new growth. 

The other reason I love spring is the local township clean-up weekend. For three days you are invited to bring anything (almost) to the collection area, no charge. Without fail we drive there every day with a bunch of items that cannot be re-purposed or given away and I love that feeling of being light, not bogged down. 

2.39 Aparigraha Sthairye Janma Kathanta Sambodhah
When one is steadfast in non-possessiveness or non-grasping with the senses (aparigraha), there arises knowledge of the why and wherefore of past and future incarnations.
— The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Aparigraha, the fifth of the five Yamas, asks us to practice non-hoarding. Now, this is where I come clean and admit that I hoard one thing...toilet paper. Too many times in my past I was left empty handed, someone else's inconsideration has scared my psyche and for years I obsess if there is not AT LEAST an unopened 9-pack of 2-ply in the waiting.


In all seriousness, through a regular practice of self-study, I have been able to let go of hoarding other items, emotions, troublesome thoughts and now I'm cool if there are only 3-4 rolls left on the shelf.

During  luncheon this week with another yogini and yoga instructor, I learned that she had a project at home to clean up stacks of training material that had built up over the year. She did not recognize it as hoarding, however, but was now opening up to the process of letting go. It begins with attachment (Raga) which was discussed in a previous blog on the Kleshas. She told a wonderful story of how her samskaras began when, in her teenage years she returned to Cuba for 13 years during the Communist regime and observed how her mother never threw anything away for fear that it may have a use later.

This song nails it.

Another chance conversation with yet another yoga instructor told of an issue with one of her classes bringing in their belongings (think shoes, bags, jackets, etc) into the yoga room. As an instructor looking to create sacred space, it was difficult for the group to let go of their attachment and need to hold on to these items which should have been stored outside of the room. Seems this met with a lot of resistance and yet, progress has been slow.

During my physical practice this week I felt a physical need to work legs up the wall, releasing the pooing of blood down the lower extremities. Hip openers also felt great, working to release tension that yogis believe is associated with holding of emotions. Twists and heart openers also felt intuitively right, aiding digestion and opening through the chest to release baggage from the past.

If you have already awakened to your personal attachments, do you consider them hoarding? Could you easily let go without regret, remorse? What kind of spring cleanse would you incorporate into your practice on the mat, in your home, even at work? 

~Peace, Light, Love to All~