This month we continue our limb-by-limb exploration of the eight limbs of yoga as delineated by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. It’s appropriate that on this last day of 2014 we’ve reached the fifth of the yamas (universal ethical observances), aparigraha. Sometimes translated as greedlessness, aparigraha encompasses the concepts of non-hoarding, non-possessiveness and non-attachment.
This precipice on which we stand between the old year and the new is the perfect point at which to practice aparigraha: to notice where we can let go and where we should hold on. It’s an opportunity to pause and reflect on what the past year has wrought and what we wish to see the new year bring. This practice can be done on multiple levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
On a physical level, aparigraha encourages us to not covet objects or possessions that we don’t have. It can be a useful practice to look at one’s material possessions and determine what really needs to stay and what can go. In this way we can reduce clutter, organize and simplify our lives.
This same practice is useful on mental, emotional, and spiritual levels as well. Particularly as we approach the new year, we might take the time to sit quietly and take stock of what’s working and what’s not…to notice where we can soften and relax, and where we should focus more attention and energy…to observe what emotions, thoughts, and actions we want to bring with us into the new year, and which we can let go.
Sally Kempton describes a beautiful ritual for releasing the mistakes and regrets of the past year and setting your intention for the new year in this article from Yoga Journal: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/yoga-101/old/
Wishing you so much happiness and health in the year to come!
Christine Malossi is a yoga teacher and writer based in Manhattan.