In yoga, the concept of aparigraha is essentially letting go. It’s a non-attachment to things, whether that’s physical things or emotional things. It’s about letting go and releasing control and fear in order to live a more content life; it’s about being content with what you have.
This concept of letting go is my biggest struggle. I’m a packrat with physical and emotional stuff. In the last three years, I’ve been laid off, found yoga, lost weight, fell in and out of love twice, graduated teacher training, and started teaching. I work a full-time job and my time outside of that is spent teaching – I teach before work, I teach after work. Hell, I even teach at work on Thursdays twice (before and after my normal hours). I teach so much, I often find myself practicing at odd times (like the middle of the night). I haven’t directly acknowledged it, but I’ve observed my personal practice dwindle from a daily occurrence to just a few times a week when I’m feeling it.
Since I’ve graduated teacher training, I’ve tried to find my footing. Teaching to middle schoolers through Yogarteens, a local non-profit that brings yoga to local middle and high schools, has helped me achieve that as well as build confidence to teach to a group of beginners. In the last month I’ve picked up four weekly studio classes at two different local studios. I have a steady private client I teach several times a week…hence the midnight vinyasas in my basement. It’s really amazing but overwhelming all at once.
So, I decided 2015 is my year of letting go.
Practicing yoga is a constant practice of letting go. I decided to hold myself responsible for a daily practice, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day before I go to bed or right when I wake up. I decided on a 365 day handstand challenge – do a handstand everyday and post a picture to social media with the hashtag #handstand365.
Handstand and I have a love/hate relationship. Generally speaking, I love inversions. The mechanics of getting your feet above your head fascinates me and makes sense all at once. Headstand, forearm stand…I got those and can hold them both for an extended period of time. Handstand? Not so much. I can hop up, and in rare instances where I just don’t care whether I hold it or not, I can. When I really, really want to hold it, I can’t and I get really frustrated. I find when I get really frustrated in yoga, it’s usually because there’s something else that’s lurking beneath the surface that’s digging at me. Doing a handstand is a reminder to let go of expectations and to just have fun. Life is a fun, beautiful thing, even when shit happens…here’s to hoping handstand keeps me in check so I may practice aparigraha.
The second way I’m choosing to let go is by starting this blog. I blogged several years ago and have sporadically guest wrote for various zines and websites over the years. An artist friend once told me, “You are an artist, your medium is language; you paint with words.” I journal regularly as a means of release, but lately it’s not enough. One of my closest friends (yoga teacher, blogger) kept encouraging me to write it all out…just write, and it will all come out.
I’m not a fancy yogi; I’m a human being who happens to do yoga. I love food and eat lots of it. I drink Diet Coke, smoke cigarettes and curse like a sailor. I cry a lot at a myriad of things; I am who I am. But people who know me and have known me for years can say yoga is the one thing I’ve consistently stuck with over the course of my life. Yoga helps me to be a better person.
When I talk to people, I realize we all struggle with the same things: self-worth, validation, love, compassion, and tolerance…too many things to list. But we are all connected, regardless. My hope is this blog helps me let go, and helps others in their path of self-discovery in some way.