Yoga encompasses so much more than just the physical postures or asanas! It includes ethical guidelines for living, known as the Yamas and Niyamas. I find these fascinating and like to see how they apply in modern day lifestyles.
So one of the Yamas is known in Sanskrit as Aparigraha, which translates roughly into ‘non-possessiveness’ or ‘non-grasping.’
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an important ancient yogic text written in the 3rd or 4th century, contain practical guidelines for living a meaningful life.
The first and second “limbs” of the Sutras are the Yamas and Niyamas, respectively. The Yamas and Niyamas are the ethical guidelines of yoga and offer a moral code of conduct. Aparigraha is one of the Yamas and teaches us to cultivate a sense of contentment and gratitude for what we have, rather than constantly striving for more.
On the mat, Aparigraha means approaching our yoga practise with a sense of lightness and ease, rather than striving for perfection or clinging to a particular outcome. By letting go of our attachment to the outcome of the pose, we allow ourselves to fully be present in the moment and to find balance and stability in our practice.
So the sheer joy of the practise is the greatest reward in itself. Instead of focusing on achieving the perfect pose, we focus on the breath and the sensations in the body, allowing us to find a deeper connection to ourselves and the present moment.
Off the mat, Aparigraha invites us to look at the material items we have in our homes. Are there items that we are clinging onto that we no longer use but can’t seem to let go of? The more we hoard material possessions, the more we weigh ourselves down with physical and energetic baggage. Possessions take up space and energy in our heads as well as in our homes. Marie Kondo’s book, “The Magic of Tidying Up,” has Aparigraha as its central theme. Kondo asks us to go through our things and decide what sparks joy, what is important, and what we can discard.
Weaving Aparigraha into our lives can help us bring about a sense of contentment, gratitude, and peace. By letting go of our attachment to material possessions and external resources, we can find happiness and fulfillment in cultivating inner peace and connection with the present moment.
The next time you step on your yoga mat or look around your home, perhaps try to approach it with a sense of Aparigraha and see how it changes your experience!