Aparigraha, The Yoga of Letting Go
Many of us have come to yoga through the relaxation and stress relief of the physical movements, and even the meditation and breathing practices. But those are only just parts of the wider system or philosophy that is yoga.
Yoga offers much more in terms of guidance and reflection for our lives. And like many philosophies it can seem overwhelming when you try to take in all of the concepts in one go. Sometimes just picking a small piece can offer important guidance.
It’s not too often we hear the word aparigraha in your regular yoga practice. You can find many different interpretations of this word, from non-hoarding to non-possessiveness and non-holding.
The underlying theme is to not hold on to things whether they are material things, goals or even thoughts and emotions.
For me I think of aparigraha as more than just not holding on to something – it’s the next step to letting go. The first time this rang true for me was an article about another yoga teacher letting go of her ability to do lotus pose as her body aged. It was her reflection of letting go of something that was important to her. In particular, in the process of letting go she let go of not only the pose but also the emotions and feelings attached to her ability to do the pose.
There are so many ways we can apply this in our own lives. Most recently, as an organiser and task master, I’ve been looking at my ‘to do list’ and wondering what I can let go of. What should I erase from the list, not because I completed it, but because I won’t hold myself accountable for completing it?
Taking a task off the list required letting go of not only the task, but the feeling of responsibility that I should do it, the guilt that I wouldn’t get it done and someone else might have to, and the disappointment that I couldn’t make time for it – as if I had failed. One small task and yet so many things to let go of. But by choosing what to let go, I am also making a conscious choice of what is important to hold.
What are you holding? What could, should or will you let go?