Aparigraha

Before you become a yoga teacher, you go through this process called “Yoga Teacher Training”, in which you learn how to pass along the yoga asana lineage, how to give assists and modifications, finding your dharma, and you learn about yogic philosophy and the many tenets involved.  It’s all quite overwhelming and really, by the time you leave, you don’t REALLY understand a damned thing.  Okay, you understand a little.  🙂  I think most of the learning is done after you are left to your own devices.  Yes, I am running amok, making mistakes and learning life’s lessons— all the while I am teaching YOU about yoga; ironic… I know.

You see, as a teacher, it is my hope that I can pass along my journey and my mistakes and maybe you can learn from them.  You can take what you want and leave behind what doesn’t serve you.  Really, that is what life is all about; taking what you want/need and leaving behind what you don’t.  The problem with leaving behind what you don’t need, is that it requires this nasty little thing called “Aparigraha”.  Aparigraha is one of the five yamas in yoga and it means non-attachment.

Most of us are hoarders.  We may not be the old lady with 12 cats and a house full of magazines and boxes, but if you look closely at your life, I bet you too are a hoarder.  Do you have a closet full of clothes you NEVER wear?  Do you keep ties with “friends” that aren’t good for you?  Or, how about that Facebook friends list; do you actually talk to those 512 friends?  Do you have a basement or attic full of boxes that you aren’t even sure what’s in them?  Or maybe you know what’s in them, but just haven’t used them in years?  Do you have knickknacks or books lying around your house that really serve no purpose?  Maybe they used to bring you enjoyment, but now they don’t.  Do you have toys your kids have outgrown, but have failed to pass along to someone else?  How about your pantry or fridge?  Do you have food you bought and never ate?  Are there any cans past their expiration date?  Do you hold on to grudges when someone slights you or does you wrong?  Do you hold fast to routines and hate to modify your schedule?

These questions aren’t meant to pass judgement on anyone, just thoughts for you to ponder over.  As I mentioned before, we all hoard in one way or another.  Some hoarding habits are healthier than others and it is up to you to decide if your habits are “healthy” or not.  Maybe it is time to let go of something permanently, or perhaps a short break or detox is in order instead.  Sometimes, all that’s required is a mixing up of your schedule to spice up your life!  Life is all about decisions.  There are no good or bad decisions; there are just decisions.  The problem is, you have to be willing to live with the outcome that comes with it.

For me, the one thing I constantly struggle with is my physical wellbeing.  I have chronic migraines and I often feel like rubbish.  I often have a struggle as to whether I want to get on my mat or not.  More often that not, the pain and fatigue wins.  It doesn’t help that I am gone for 12 hours a day for work either.  With that said, I do practice mentally a lot and I do pranayama often.  There are times where I may often just do a couple poses.  Yoga is the one thing I refuse to give up.  I cannot give it up; it keeps me sane and healthy.  It helps relieve my stress and tension and helps manage my migraines.

So…. what about this whole hoarding thing?  Is this a bad habit?  Should I practice non attachment and let this go?  Absolutely not.  What aparigraha means is that I need to honor my body.  It means that when I need rest, I need to take it.  It means that when life comes up, I need to accept that life happens.  It means that when I don’t get on my mat, I shouldn’t beat myself up and feel like shit about it.  I’ve been there before.  I did that all through my YTT and it got me nowhere fast (except feeling like a shitty yogini).  There are times where I wish I had a more diligent practice and I wish I could progress faster than I am, but it is what it is.  THAT is non-attachment, my friend.  When you can look life in the face and accept the things that you cannot change, then you are practicing aparigraha.  That is when santosha (contentment) begins to envelope you and a whole new realm opens up.

Personally, I like the feeling of contentment, so I am going to keep this practice going.  It’s an attachment I can live with.  I enjoy my practice immensely, as it is a gateway drug to self discovery.  One which I learn more and more about myself, as well as the world around me.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching and I am fond of my tribe that shows up and I love the devotion they have for their practice.  Honestly, I can’t think of anything better than standing in front of a bunch of sweaty yogis, hearts all open, all divine beings.

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*  Creating Sacred Space
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I Will Survive…

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I made it through my first week!  It was like my own personal hell week  with all the chaturangas I put my body through.  I was pretty sure I was going to collapse on my mat, but my body held strong (YES!) With that said, I’m pretty sure I rolled up an arm along with my mat at the end of class at least once (because it fell off).

Despite my struggle, I could feel my body getting strong as the week went by; having a yoga practice four days a week is paying off!  The vinyasa sequence got SLIGHTLY easier and by the second day of me doing utthita parsvasahita, I could actually hold my leg up without my hip flexor screaming for mercy.  It turns out that the first day I was using my flexors instead of activating my core muscles and keeping them engaged during the entire posture; basically I was overworking them.

I find it amazing that despite the fact that it is a mysore room and Elizabeth is watching everyone doing their own thing, she has the ability to see all.  I don’t get away with much- she is an amazing yoga instructor.  One day I was struggling and I happened to be breathing with my mouth open during my sun b series and she caught me (oops) and gave a reminder to keep the mouth closed.  She also seems to constantly remind me to keep my arm over my head during utthita paravakonasana b.  Each day I’ve been learning at least one new asana and I work to hone what I learned the days before.  I do a lot of repetition to help drill the series into my little brain.  This week I learned all the standing Ashtanga yoga postures of the primary series.  Next week we will be working on backbends.

Although the 84 mile round trip is not ideal and it makes for a long day, being gone from 7 in the morning until 8 at night, I have to admit that I am really loving this!!  I genuinely look forward to the end of my work day, and the drive on 95, though icky, is worth it to get to get to my yoga practice.  I use the drive time to attempt to decompress and by the time I roll out my mat and find myself standing on it, I can’t help but feel like I’m home.

The heat of the room is like a hug to my soul and the rhythmic breathing of those around me is like music that soon lulls me into my own practice, only broken by the occasional thump and direction by Elizabeth.  My inhales and exhales, though ragged at times, lets me know that I am alive.  As my muscles tire and my mind begins to wane, my willpower takes over. I smile, because now I know… I will survive.