Aparigraha: The art of letting go

I love roses. I have several varieties growing around my house. I always fancied that if I were to live in my husband's home country of England we would have a cottage with roses everywhere and our cottage would be called "Rose Cottage" or something equally as cliche.

I love my roses, my husband is slightly less fond of them. He has a yearly battle with them. Of the two of us he is the innovative, handy person. He builds the lattice on which the roses I adore climb. And as beautiful as roses are, they are also filled with their own weaponry: thorns! As the roses grow my husband will help them climb up the structures he builds form them and he sometimes comes out of it pretty scratched up. You must use great care when handling roses. If you grab them they bite back. If you move gently, slowly, and mindfully with great care you will not get hurt. The gentler the touch the better. You cannot grasp them.

The small pink roses I'm holding in the photo are draped over an old wall at the back of my garden. I did not grow them. They are grown by our beloved neighbors. They are one of two roses I refer to as "Caren's roses." Caren was a friend, sister, neighbor, and SOAR class attendee. Caren is the reason I got my yoga teacher certification. She was one of my biggest supporters. A year ago, May 2019, Caren passed away. Her roses bloomed in January of 2020, her birth month. Only as we enter May are the blooms beginning to fade. Like an ode to her life, blooming in January and leaving in May. Caren loved winter and hated summer. It seems her roses are a reflection of her soul.

As much as I would have loved for Caren to stay with us in this life it was not to be. We could grasp as tightly as possible, but she st

ill had to go. Her roses cannot bloom all year. There is a cycle that must be honored. No matter how we may cling people, plants, animals who enter our lives come and go. Like the moon, the inconstant moon that monthly changes in her circle orb.* We cannot make them stay.

We cannot keep our children little, we cannot force things to stay the same. We need to have the ability to hold on gently to allow things to come and go. There is no constant except change.

This is the yama, Aparigraha, or non-grasping. We learn to let go even while grasping because it is one of the lessons of life. If you take a flower from the rose bush and try to grasp it it will fall apart in your hand. Everything is like that, isn't it?

Something I say in class a lot is, "If you are trying to force your body into a position the only thing you are getting better at is force, and that is not what we are wanting. Force will make you tighter, not more open." Do not compare yourself to anyone else on the mat, or in life for that matter. You are not them. Your body is not their body. Your bones are not their bones. Honor your body. You cannot honor your body if you are trying to force your body to do something it isn't ready to do or perhaps is not built for. You must let go of force, competition, comparison, and judgement on the mat and off. Remember: Yoga is NOT a competitive sport! (neither is anything else taught at SOAR, for that matter.)

This is what we are discussing in the May 2020 yoga classes: Aparigraha, non-grasping, letting go. Yoga applies not only to your physi

cal body, but life. You shouldn't force your body to do something it is not ready for, you will get hurt. You cannot get your body to move well if you are gripping and grasping and forcing it. You need balance of strength and flexibility. You need to honor your body. So goes life. You cannot control everything always. You need strength and flexibility. Hold what you love with care and without force so it is free to come and go as it should. Hold your pose on the mat with love and care as well. Life is easier (not easy, but easier) if you can apply this practice of aparigraha.

I invite you to join a SOAR Yoga class. There is discuss

ion, meditation, and the physical practice of asana and I'd love to see you there.

*Juliet from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, act 2 scene 2 page 5

Love and Health,


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