Culturally, we identify so strongly with our careers, believing that what we do is who we are. I once proclaimed so strongly that I am a yoga teacher, it stopped the conversation in its tracks, leaving friends to ask why I held so tightly to this notion. Their question made me pause and wonder the same thing myself.
Yoga’s ’10 Commandments’, the yamas and niyamas offer a roadmap for how to live a yogic life. One of the yamas is aparigraha, translated as non-possessiveness or non-attachment. In my need to identify myself with my career, it seems I’d strayed from practicing aparigraha. I had become so attached to yoga that it was part of my identity. I was wholly caught up in the ‘who we are is what we do’ paradigm and needed to establish some separation from yoga to understand how I had fallen into this way of thinking. By separation, I don’t mean avoiding teaching or not practicing. Rather, I tried to get clear that yoga means an awful lot to me, but it is not me. It is separate from self, or ego, or whatever you like to call it. Acknowledging this can lead to much relief. It’s ok if you aren’t working as a lawyer, banker, teacher. You are so much more than that. We are all so much more.
Breaking this attachment can open up worlds to you. If you are not X, then you can be Y or Z or anything else. Such a spectacular concept! Take this new found clarity onto your yoga mat. Breath relief into every part of your body and mind. Feel the freedom of your breath and let that open up your creative spirit. Not feeling the relief, yet? Try some of my favorite stress relieving poses: Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand – against a wall), Baddha Sirsasana (bound headstand), rag-doll, Halasana (plow) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog). These poses are all inversions that put your head lower than your heart, literally turning your world upside-down, but this time in a good way. The accompanying rush of blood toward the head sends a signal to your body that your blood-pressure is increasing**. Your body responds by triggering reflexes that lower your blood pressure. Ahhhh! Sweet relief.
**Because of this initial rise, those with high blood pressure should practice inversions with caution (read more on the subject).