Saturday, March 19, 2016

Clearing the Clutter with Yoga: Aparigraha

about hoarding
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

As the temperatures begin to increase in the temperate areas of the world, you may be finding yourself longing to clear the clutter out of your living space. In a similar fashion, you may also long to create spaciousness and peace in your own mind and heart. In order to create a spacious, peaceful internal state, it is often necessary to come to terms with unresolved, painful life experiences. Resolving painful life experiences helps to lift the energy of trauma, disappointment and grief from both the body and the mind. In doing so, the sense of internal clutter is dissolved and an abiding field of spaciousness opens up within our own being. 

"Aparigraha" is a Sanskrit term that is translated as, "non-hoarding, non-possessiveness and non-attachment." It is part of the Yogic system of moral restraints, known in Sanskrit as the Yamas. Of course, by holding onto too many possessions, your living space may become far too cramped and cluttered. This will prevent a feeling of lightness and cleanliness in your home. In the same way, holding onto unresolved, difficult life experiences in your body and mind will create a heavy feeling of lethargy, anger, sadness, and even depression. Clearly, the Yogic scriptures admonish us from engaging in hoarding, possessiveness and strong attachments if we want to be able to romance the light of the divine in our own hearts. 

There are many ways to put Aparigraha into practice in our daily lives. For instance, engaging in spring-cleaning is a yearly ritual for many of us that help us to organize our living spaces. In the same way, by following a spring detoxification dietary program, you will be able to cleanse your body of toxins that may have built up in your system over the winter months. A seasonal cleanse is highly recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners, Yoga's sister science of health and well being. If you are contending with any serious health issues, you may want to consult your health care provider before engaging in a spring detoxification nutritional program. 

Similarly, if you have experienced any particularly difficult life events that remain unresolved, you may want to work in tandem with a mental health professional, such as a therapist, counselor or psychologist. If you feel that you are able to resolve some of the lingering after effects of painful life events without the support of a professional mental health provider, you may find that writing your thoughts down in a journal, painting or talking to a trusted friend or spiritual adviser may help to lighten your internal clutter and allow you mind to settle into a peaceful state of awareness. 

The practice of Yoga can be a tremendous tool for illuminating problematically cluttered areas in your life. I find that the way that I approach my Yoga practice on the mat directly reflects how I approach my life off the mat. For instance, I often keep practicing vigorous standing postures, even when the rest of the class is resting in Shavasana! In the same way, I frequently work late into the evening, during the time of day when most of my friends and family are resting. This awareness has helped me to slow down and try to include some unstructured time in my daily schedule. 

During a Yoga class or personal practice, you may find that your are "cluttering up" your time on the mat with too many postures without allowing yourself the time to perform pranayama, meditation or rest for 5-10 minutes in Final Relaxation Pose. By creating space in your practice for soothing and balancing breathing exercises, such as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and Dirga Pranayama, as well as a brief period of meditation and resting for a minimum of 5 minutes in Shavasana, you will give both your body and mind the message that it is ok to relax and that you have done enough for one day. In addition, by including some restorative seated forward folds into your Yoga practice, you will further support yourself in the process of releasing any unnecessary clutter in your mind and body. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Mary Wilson said...

Thanks for sharing this useful article.

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