Seeking Aparigraha in asanas

(Sharing by Cassandra Siua as part of the 30hr Discovery Programme)

Aparigraha (Sanskrit: अपरिग्रह) is the concept of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness. It refers to keeping the desire for possessions to what is necessary or important, depending on one’s life stage and context.

There are many ways in which can adapt this Yama trait. This important Yama 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. That’s right – let go. Let go of the possessions we do not need, negative feelings that reside within us, painful memories embedded in our minds, people who do not serve any purpose in our lives and finally, let go of our breaths and allow it to flow fully and deeply whenever we are anxious, angry, frustrated, tensed up or even tired. I don’t know about you, but taking long deep breaths has (many times in my life) stopped me from (many) full frontal confrontations and unwarranted arguments that may turn into bad memories which I do not need in my mind.

As a yogi with a Facebook and Instagram account, don’t we all love following yogis all over the world, admiring their (sometimes ridiculously-outrageous-almost-impossible-to-do) poses and wishing we could do that, telling ourselves that #practiceandalliscoming ? Well, we, or maybe I got to know that it ain’t going to happen anytime soon, at least for me.

You know how some people are born flexible? Well, I am definitely not of them. I used to blame it on my athletic days, genes, body anatomy, tight muscles and literally everything I could point a finger to. I used to hunger after a full Hanumanasana, a beautiful Urdva Dhanurasana or even a perfect Badhakonasana. Boy am I glad that was a thing of the past. Despite my regular practice, I am still far from a “perfect” pose, a strong asana flow or even a flexible body.

Letting go of this hunger, this craving, this greed or even this ego is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my practice. Nowadays, I feel over the moon with every small improvement I make and with this, I mean really small improvement – even the ability to move my chest a little closer to the wall recently in my Urdva Dhanurasana made me smile the whole day long. We need to learn that we practice for the love of practicing; progress in our practice may be encouraging but it does not need to be the only reward, like one of our favourite hashtag, #progressionnotperfection.

Aparigraha offers us so much freedom – the freedom to work and do what we love without worrying about the outcome, the freedom to rely less on external and material possessions to bring us happiness, and the freedom to experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be.

Like a line from a famous song, “Let it go, let it go, don’t hold it back anymore”.

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