I’m just back from Toronto where Anitra Cottledge and I guided a group of open-hearted yogis through the My Now Body workshop. We talked about how we feel about our bodies and possible causes for those feelings. It was an honest, powerful, eye-opening conversation and I’m grateful for all those who were in the space. At one point, we asked the group to write on a whiteboard – for all to see – something they are giving up because of their Now Body. To honor the privacy of the participants, I’m not going to tell you what was written. And, really, the “what” doesn’t matter as much as the “why.” Why do we put things on hold? And, the big question of the day:
How does not doing certain things serve us? What do we get out of it?
That’s an honest question – not a cue that putting things on hold is a bad thing. I think we should explore our reasons, rather than assuming we need to change. Sometimes we put things on hold out of fear. We’re just not ready. Sometimes it’s because of uncertainty. We’re just not sure yet. Sometimes it’s because the thing we put on hold is something others think we should do, not something we want for ourselves.You know what? You don’t need to judge yourself for what you’re choosing to do or not do. Don’t want to wear a swimsuit? That’s OK. See if you can explore the “why” behind your decision and then see if you can make peace with it. Cause really, that decision is yours. YOU DON’T GOTTA BE FIXED.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t set goals for ourselves and stretch our comfort zones from time to time, if that’s what we want to do. Setting goals can be empowering. Letting go of a goal can be equally so, as we learn to be comfortable with where we are without the burning yearn for where we think we should be. That’s where yoga comes in.
The yogic principle (yama), Aparigraha, is about letting go of our attachment to objects, situations, people, and things that do not serve us. It also means letting go of attachment to a particular outcome. Letting go of how I view myself of what I’m “supposed” to be or how I’m “supposed” to look. Practicing Aparigraha can keep us on a path of mindfulness, teaching us to live where we are, not where we think we should be. It can guide us into living fully and lovingly within our Now Bodies.
If you have an asana practice, Aparigraha can mean breathing within the pose you’re in without judging yourself and without racing to what the next pose will be. If you are cultivating a meditation practice, Aparigraha can teach you how to be OK with the fact that you meditated 30 seconds, not 30 minutes. And, if you are bringing yoga off the mat and into your daily life, Aparigraha can help you learn to be gentler with yourself. It can help you learn how to live your life with more gratitude and less judgment. Wouldn’t that feel great?
Think about your Now Body. Think about your “I’ll do this when my body is right” list. Consider what’s on your list – and why. Examine the things that don’t serve you, that don’t give you a warm feeling in your heart. And see if you want to let them go. If you do, see if you can give yourself permission to do that with a sense of empowerment instead of failure.
You are strong and amazing and you don’t gotta be fixed. You really don’t.
Want to read more about Aparigraha? I like this article from Centered Yoga.