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Spring Cleaning with Yoga

Yoga is a lifestyle. It is a path that offers us a chance to live fully and live well. The practice on your mat is called “Asana.” This is the yoga practice you may be most familiar with, but it is not the only way to practice yoga.

Another way of practicing being your yoga is through the “Yamas.” These Yamas are 5 personal disciplines within yoga philosophy.

They are…

  • Ahimsa- non-violence, non-harm 

  • Satya- Honesty, truthfulness 

  • Asteya- Non-stealing, taking only what we need

  • Brahmacharya- non-excess

  • Aparigraha- non-possessiveness, non-greed

Seem a little abstract? It’s more simple than you’d think. 

In honor of the Spring season, let’s explore how to practice each of these personal disciplines for deep cleaning on and off your mat. 

Grab your duster! 

Ahimsa- non-violence, non-harm

Practicing non-harm includes being mindful that our thoughts towards ourselves are loving, kind and forgiving. For some of us, just the word “Spring Cleaning,” can conjure feelings of guilt, shame and even excitement. Practicing ahimsa in our thoughts allows us to have more joy in our lives.  

The Practice: Replace the negative tapes. If you witness thoughts of judgment or self-criticism around the idea of cleaning, like “I’m so messy,” “why did I wait so long to do this?” or “I wish I were as organized as so and so,” breathe and replace these thoughts with loving kindness.

Satya- Honesty, truthfulness 

What does honesty have to do with Spring Cleaning? Everything. Cleaning our space allows us to take a personal inventory of our surroundings. Satya can be practiced by lovingly looking at our surroundings and being honest about what we see. 

The Practice: Take a look at your possessions and house projects. Honestly evaluate what truly makes your heart happy and what no longer serves you. 

Asteya- Non-stealing, taking only what we need

Asteya goes deeper than, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Asteya is the practice of how we rob ourselves of our joy. 

Practice By: Pacing yourself. Go back to honesty for a moment, is it reasonable to expect to finish cleaning your entire house over one weekend? Practice non- stealing by creating a reasonable schedule for yourself. Plan the time you want to work, include small breaks to eat or rest and most importantly, plan a time to stop for the day. Whatever you get done in the time you planned is ok. Whatever is left undone can wait. Take a break. 

Brahmacharya- non-excess

Non-excess. Spring cleaning is a perfect opportunity to free ourselves from excess weight. “Traveling lightly,” by letting go of the things we do not need isn’t just a nice idea, it’s good for you! 

The practice: Clean that mirror and get ready for some self-reflection. This is a time to look at your motivations behind your belongings. Do they bring you joy, do they hold a loving memory or do they keep you from not feeling? Only you will know. So make some time to hop on your mat and get honest.

Aparigraha- non-possessiveness, non-greed

The discipline of letting go has many implications for our spring cleaning. It's okay to have wants and possessions, this will take self-inquiry to see your truth. It's normal to have an emotional connection with objects. But it's also normal to have things that you just enjoy. However, sometimes we hold onto these objects because we fear to let them go or maybe they've become substitutions for a lack of fulfillment in our lives. Only you know. 

The Practice: Start simple and go easy on yourself. But what about your grandfather's old ties? Understand, Aparigraha doesn’t demand you throw these things away. It is important to practice all of the yamas as you practice each one individually. Honestly, do you need those ties? The answer may be yes. Perhaps completely getting rid of these things would be an act of violence to yourself. Perhaps getting rid of a certain object may be robbing you of a precious connection or desire. Letting go can be a creative and healing process. Maybe turn all those ties into a quilt, maybe make a donation or just allow yourself to enjoy your stuff!

However you “spring clean,” remember LOVE. This is the theme of all the yamas. Love is the center of your yoga practice. 

Much love. 

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