The practice of yoga teaches us many things. Most importantly, we are taught to apply what we learn on the mat to our lives off the mat.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras place yoga philosophy outside of asana practice. The yamas and niyamas act as moral and ethical guides to guide you along the path of the eight limbs of yoga. These specific teachings help us better understand ourselves and others.
Today we will focus on the last Yama in the Yoga Sutras: Aparigraha.
What is Aparigraha?
Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word meaning non-attachment. It can also be translated as nothing or not greedy. This important precept teaches us to take only what we need and keep only what is useful to us in the moment.
It challenges us to let go when appropriate.
Some people practice aparigraha by avoiding the accumulation of unnecessary possessions. Others refuse to accept bribes or gifts that would compromise their values.
But a deeper approach requires us to consider why we feel the need to acquire these things in the first place.
Aparigraha can be practiced through selfless service, hatha yoga or meditation. These activities will help calm an eager mind. Over time, you will develop a greater sense of contentment and inner peace. Even the slightest hint of this inner contentment can provide us with a basis for moderation. When we seek what we want, we have to deal with what we really need.
With practice, refraining from greed can evolve into acts of active generosity.
Generosity comes naturally from a deep sense of connection and can come in many forms. Generosity can mean giving someone a warm smile, taking the time to appreciate someone you love, or silently praying to lift up a friend in need.
Sharing gifts and blessings happens naturally when we acknowledge our abundance. We need to shed our culture’s self-centered messages and rewire our thinking.
With practice, you may find that giving is more satisfying than keeping.
Aparigraha teaches us never to worry about the outcome of a situation. Instead, we should only be concerned with what we are currently doing. While aparigraha is certainly a process, through moderation and restraint it can bring us a deeper sense of peace.
Here are some ways you can practice Aparigraha in your daily life.
#1 Organize unwanted clothes
throw away unwanted clothes
We’ve all had the experience of buying clothes we never wear. In fact, we live in a culture that is ashamed to wear the same item of clothing twice. But why are we taught to accumulate more than we need?
Try getting rid of clothes in your closet that you don’t like.
Wearing the same clothes over and over can be a great indicator of what makes you happy. However, if you like variety in your wardrobe, try shopping for pieces that you can mix and match to create more dressing options without being too cluttered.
Organizing your clothes this way allows you to focus on what matters most.
Enjoy the way your clothes make you feel, not the amount of clothes you own.
#2 Giving unwanted furniture to those in need
Giving unwanted furniture to those in need
Furniture is another thing that we accumulate unnecessarily. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the actual spaces we inhabit. Clearing out unused furniture from your living space can help soothe tedium. This will also help you focus on what you need and are using.
There are many others who may not have enough furniture or no furniture at all. Consider donating unused furniture to places like Goodwill for families and individuals in need.
Remember, furniture is made for a specific purpose.
If you’re not using it, put it somewhere else that can make a difference.
#3 Browse through different properties and donate them
Browse various properties and donate
The key word here is miscellaneous. That doesn’t mean getting rid of personal items completely. Sometimes there are very meaningful physical objects. They may have been passed down from generation to generation. They may remind you of someone you love. These are valuable items worthy of collection.
If it doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t bring you joy, then you can just let it go.
Also, what is different from you can be very meaningful to someone else. Other people’s trash is other people’s treasure. Let those projects work elsewhere.
#4 Give something as a gesture of kindness or love
Give an item as a gesture of kindness or to show love
Giving away items allows you to connect with others. After all, gift giving is for giving, not buying the latest new model.
A gift makes a two-way relationship between approval and acceptance.
It is an energy that flows between you and another person. Giving also allows you to show kindness and generosity. This act allows you to express your love physically.
Let gifting be an extension of your compassion and care. Let it bring joy to you and the recipient.
#5 Watch your breath
watch your breath
The simple act of inhaling and exhaling allows you to know Aparigraha. By letting go of the exhale, allow yourself to inhale again.
Breathing tells us that letting go is just as important as receiving.
Taking and giving go hand in hand. Indispensable.
Focusing on your breath also reminds us to recognize this