Let It Go Already - Practicing Aparigraha

Rachel Mack
Let It Go Already - Practicing Aparigraha

The Yoga Rant is on a tour of the yamas, or behavioral restraints of yoga. This week, we've reached the fifth and final Yama, aparigraha.

What Is Aparigraha?

Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word that translates to non-grasping. Practicing aparigraha means not holding onto things, whether because they aren't ours to hold or because they aren't serving us. There are many ways we can practice aparigraha every day.

Let Go Of Your Stuff

Did the car that you've worked so hard to pay for get totaled? Let it go. Do you have to move for a new job and leave the home you love? Let it go. Is the new place not big enough to hold all your clothes, furniture, books, etc? Let them go. We live in a constant loop of obtaining and losing stuff. If you take a bunch of stuff that isn't yours to begin with and keep hanging on to things you no longer need (or simply can't have), you'll only make yourself miserable.

Let Go Of That Awkward Moment

We all have moments we know we could have done better. We rethink arguments and craft the perfect retort, even though the moment is passed. We berate ourselves for misspeaking in a job interview or in front of a potential love interest. Living in these past moments doesn't change anything, and it keeps us from living fully in the present. If you embarrassed yourself, learn from the moment and--you guessed it--let it go.

Let Go Of Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Have you ever known someone who was in a horrible relationship that they refused to end? I had a yoga classmate once who had reunited with a former fiancée. Every conversation I had with her centered how he was making her suffer. He was mean. He didn't like it when she went out with her friends. They hadn't had sex in a month. After several conversations about how miserable she was, I went ahead and suggested that he didn't sound like a great match.

"But he's my best frieeennnd."

Well, when you put it that way, it all makes perfect sense!

Eventually, they did break up. Out of spite, he refused to forward the Yoga Journal subscription that he'd had delivered to his house for her. She moved on quickly with a new love--after several months of trying to make it work with someone who'd made no secret of his mean, petty ways.

Let Go Of Your Grandpa

When people die, we have mementos and memories that make them feel close. However, dealing with death is the most unavoidable practice of aparigraha. Unlike changing a bad boyfriend, there's absolutely zero chance that our patience and hard work will result in the return of a deceased loved one. We have to accept that someone's life on earth has ended, and let them go. This goes for our own lives too. Every little moment that we choose to let go, we're practicing for the ultimate surrender. It will be easier if we've had a little bit of practice.