For the last few weeks, we have been exploring the Yamas together. Hopefully, these short posts have given you a foundation in these essential practices for our yoga journey. My sincere hope is that you view these Yamas not as “restraints” or “tenets.” Such words can evoke loaded imagery that is the opposite of what we want to achieve. I hope that you view the Yamas as guideposts along your journey. As guideposts, we can use them to make slight corrections with love and kindness toward ourselves and others. I always say to my students that when it comes to Yogic Philosophy, none of these teachings matter if it causes pain and disruption in our journey.
Finally, we arrive at Aparigraha, the last of the Yamas. Aparigraha translates to ‘non-possessiveness’ or ‘non-grasping.’ Some consider it simply as the ability to “let it go.” Maybe Elsa from the movie Frozen was actually a Yogi, in addition to a Snow Queen (yes, I’m a Disney fan, don’t judge me). It’s quite easy to say that we are not “attached” to certain things. It’s quite easy to detach ourselves from material things (other than a functioning A/C during a Florida summer); It’s quite another story to separate ourselves from our expectations. These can be expectations of ourselves as well as expectations of others.
Consider your typical workday. You get up early, prepare yourself, head into the office (pre-COVID, obviously), and struggle to find a parking spot. You look forward to walking into work to be greeted by your favorite receptionist. Not only do you find this person physically attractive, but they engage with you in a way that always leaves a smile on your face. What happens the day you walk in, and this person is dismissive to you or rude. Your whole day may be entirely shot. Not because of what this person did or failed to do, but because the expectation of your daily encounter was not met. There are plentiful examples such as these where our unmet expectations of other people have a detrimental effect on us.
This does not mean that we should not appreciate positive interactions in our life. Quite the opposite, if we learn to let go of our expectations, we can create more space to fully enjoy each delectable moment that life offers us. In her book, ‘The Yamas and Niyamas’, Deborah Adele likens these expectations to suitcases that we are carrying around. The more expectations we have, the heavier our bag gets. This becomes a maintenance problem for us when we think of the energy expended to keep all these expectations afloat. Next time you feel disappointed in an outcome of something, take a moment to reflect on the expectation you built around it. As you begin to move forward in your journey and see an expectation begin to rise, approach it with love and kindness for yourself as you replace expectations with appreciation.
Frank de la Cruz, E-RYT 200, YACEP is a Yoga teacher and writer who lives in Central Florida. Frank began his Yoga journey in 2011 and strongly believes that Yoga is for everyBODY.