From Patanjali to modern day, it can be hard to stay on your mat and out of your head. Here is how to take ancient principles into the modern context.
The modern mantra of writing is “leave out unnecessary words.” One person who was way ahead of his time was the author (or authors) under the name Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras are elegantly and succinctly written. He would have easily gotten an A in Creative Writing.
If you aren’t aware of the Yoga Sutras, it is a foundational text that describes what yoga is. Asana practice is one of the steps, as is breathing. But before you even get down, yoga style, Patanjali suggests that you look in. You become aware of what you should let go of and what you should add into your life. He outlines the restraint and the observances as the yamas and the niyamas.
One of the yamas is aparigraha. This is the concept of non-possiveness, non-grasping or non-greed. This is well and good, you may be thinking, but how does this translate within your yoga practice? The following situations may indicate that it may be time to check your aparigraha (you see what we did there?).
The following situations may indicate that it’s time to check your aparigraha:
1. Advanced yoga practitioner in class
The instructor suggests pincha mayurasana and one of the students just effortlessly floats up into a forearm stand. Rather than sticking with pride at your own achievements you watch this person, thinking that they should show off less.
2. Beginner’s luck
Some people are naturally flexible. They may have genetic luck when it comes to the elasticity of their connective tissues. They have never taken a yoga class, yet the splits are no problem. While you watch them surpass your body’s ability during class, you silently curse them and wish there were such a thing as yoga voodoo.
3. Your own frustration
In your head, there’s a certain plan that your body should follow. After roughly a million sun salutations you should be able to float. After 100 attempts at crow, you should land it. Yet it doesn’t always work like that. Rather than celebrating what you can do, you spend a large percentage of an asana class internally belittling yourself.
Keep Jealousy off the Mat
We all get green-eyed from time to time. Even thousands of years ago this was the case, otherwise, Patanjali wouldn’t have written about it. Getting mad at yourself for your grasping tendencies is not the route.
Try instead celebrating what is; such as your ability to excel in child’s pose or how your breath has extended over time. Or even how when you come back from yoga class, you feel grounded, inspired, empowered, or all of the above. You have nothing to be jealous of because your yoga practice is ultimately a practice in being a fuller version of yourself. And who is better at that than you?