yamas

The Yamas - Aparigraha

Aparigraha - Letting Go

If you've been following along, you know that yoga is more than just asanas (postures) and meditation practices.  The practice of yoga is to "yoke" the mind, body, and spirit to help us be fully connected with ourselves on every level of our existence.  The first limb of a yoga practice is called the yamas, which are the social observances we can practice to help bring ourselves to a more aware, balances, and whole state of being. 

The final practice in the yamas is Aparigraha, the practice of non-possession or attachment in the material, physical, emotional, and spiritual world.  There are many discussions on how to interpret or practice aparigraha including those who renounce all material and social ties to those who possess plenty material items and relationships but do not define themselves by said connections.  The key to understanding aparigraha is to look at how you feel if all of your connections and belongings were to disappear.  Would you remain yourself? Would you feel lost or destroyed? Would you feel free?

Practicing aparigraha would leave you remaining whole, yourself, content at the root of it all as having people, things, and beliefs are all added blissful enjoyments and experiences.  Even if they last for a lifetime, we are not truly defined by these connections and enjoyments.  We are only defined by ourselves, our connection to our inner world, and to whatever our truth may be at any given moment and set of circumstances.  Even with that, we are consistently changing with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the ideas and experiences we have, and the overall disposition we take. 

Yoga Philosophy Fort Collins

In the tantric philosophy life is to be experienced, lived, and enjoyed with a sense of peace and continual bliss or ecstasy, which equates to being content amongst all of life's changes.  It is my belief and understanding that we must learn to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate what is in the moment, instead of our ideas of what may be.  These ideas of what may or should be are attachment. These judgments or expectations are ones that can detract from our joy and conscious experience. 

Living an unattached life allows you to remain whole within yourself without losing yourself in any person, place, thing, idea, or belief. It helps you feel free,  unhindered, and purely yourself in the most non-dual way we can experience ourselves. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you truly define yourself? Is this mutable? Is this a rigid idea?
  • What attachments do you have?
  • Do you spend most of your time focusing on the past, the present, or the future? 
  • What things do you consider “yours” and are they truly yours?
  • How do you view nature and her resources?
  • Are you attached to a particular experience or idea of what your spiritual path may look like?
  • Do you donate, give away, pay-it forward, or volunteer your time, belongings, energy, money? 
  • What emotions continually surround you? Do these move or are they steady in your life?

The art of un-attachment is not an easy practice, but vital for a sense of self, wholeness, and personal happiness.

As Buddha puts it "You only lose what you cling to." If we don't cling, and merely begin to appreciate the experiences and people in our lives past, present, and future we can remain whole and undefined by external circumstances.

It's my hope that this article can help you become a little less attached, a little more aware, and a lot more at peace.  We are in an ever changing wonderful existence. Allow your intentions and surroundings to guide you, not define you.  Appreciate what is, what was, and what may come in the moments they occur. Allow yourself to be yourself, a beautiful imprint on the energetic puzzle we call life. 

Missed the other Yamas?  Check them out here:

Have questions or need support?  Contact us. 

The Yamas - Asteya

Freedom comes from within.   Photo by Kelsey White

Freedom comes from within. 

Photo by Kelsey White

In past articles, we've explored Ahimsa and Satya, the first two yamas from the text "The Yoga Sutras".  Today we'll discuss and take a look at asteya.  Asteya is the practice of non-stealing.  It is the respectful observance of sources that have contributed to your life or surround you in written, spoken, energetic, or situational exchange.

One way you can think of this practice as utilizing the academic use of bibliographies to ensure that you are giving proper credit to those who have introduced or developed the information that is presented to you in life. Another way is to respect the time and energy of yourself and those around you. Practicing asteya enables us to honor the community we come from and interact with in our lives, while simultaneously lifting each other up energetically instead of eroding the very forces that sustain and build us all.

Asteya, when practiced well, can physiologically affect individuals, including yourself.  When we practice asteya, we are able to positively support brain chemistry including our serotonin and dopamine levels. These two chemicals are related to doing a good job and value or stature. The more we practice giving people the credit they deserve, the more we help elevate their level of self-worth, value, and appreciation and the less likely individuals will experience chemical imbalances that result in symptoms like depression, anxiety, and social fears.

Be aware of asteya in:

Photo by Mary Wrightson

Photo by Mary Wrightson

  • Your speech, writing, artwork/creations
  • Use of imagery on social media
  • Exchanges with teachers, professors
  • Exchanges with friends, family and lovers
  • Your own energy expenditures (thoughts, actions, emotions, words)

Ask yourself:

  • Did I come up with this?
  • Where did this (idea, thought, emotion, item, etc) come from? 
  • Am I living presently or focusing on past or future?
  • Am I adding to, taking away from, or being neutral in this situation?
  • Is there reciprocity in this situation or my day to day life?
  • How can I give more credit to my wealth of knowledge or those around me?
  • Do I know how to say no to others when it is depleting of my own energy? 

Enjoy taking a deeper look within and starting to become aware of your patterns and habits. As always, if you need support or assistance in working with this topic and construct in your life, please contact us to set up an energy or coaching session with one of our professionals so you can live beyond limit and start living the life you'd like to live. 

The Yamas - Ahimsa

Yoga Yamas

The Yamas are the first "limb" of yoga as concluded by Pantanjali, a famous sage who brought together the teachings behind yoga in his compilation The Yoga Sutras.  

These social observances are boiled down principles to govern your actions, motives, and behaviors as you interact not only with yourself, but with your community. We will look closely at ahimsa today, or non-harming. 

Ahimsa:  Non-Harming/ Non-Violence

Ahimsa is simply practicing to reduce physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual harm and violence.  This yama requests that you take a look at your actions and see how you can live more symbiotically with your community in order to foster health and vitality around you instead of harm and destruction.  

Practicing ahimsa in your words means using intentional communication.  Intentional communication considers all factors going into the exchange to ensure that the intention of the words spoken are able to be received and understood fully. 

 

Examples:

•   Communicate intentionally by asking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Can it be spoken to minimize harm?

•   Try to go organic – your money gives energy to the industry standards you accept

•   Buy local produce and products to minimize the use of petrochemicals in transport while boosting local economy.

•   Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is when your body recovers and rehydrates from the day prior

•   Use compassion with those who are unhappy or suffering

•   Release judgments of yourself and others

•   Create strong boundaries for yourself and others to respectfully operate within