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I Am a Hoarder of Leggings

by Renee Downing, E-RYT 500, YACEP

I have been thinking a lot about Aparigraha since introducing it to my classes a couple months ago. I am a collector of things I love, which is a nice way to say I am a hoarder. I have tons of stones and crystals. I am a hoarder of leggings. My god I have so many leggings. But I’m also a yoga teacher and studio owner, which means I’m broke. So most of the leggings I own aren’t the best quality and lack in comfort and breathability. Many of them are also made in countries I have disdain for. Since introducing non-hoarding, non-greed, non-attachment to my students (a reintroduction to teacher training graduates), I have cut back drastically on my “collecting” of nonessential items. I use a lot less paper plates, plastic bags, and other disposable items. I have even started using less toilet paper. (a trip to Southeast Asia where toilet paper is scarce really opened my eyes to how much excess I had gotten in the habit of using.)

I have purchased one pair of leggings in the last 2 months and it was only because I needed a pair of capris for the summer that weren’t falling off of me (I lost a chunk of weight since last summer) Since taking a step back from incessant buying, I have really been able to absorb the amount of damage I had been doing with my purchasing habits. I could have so much more money in savings right now if I only bought what I needed the last several years. By buying the cheap stuff I was supporting countries where it is legal to do absolutely heinous things to animals (a topic for another discussion). By hoarding non-essential items, I had cluttered not only my living space, but my mind as well. All that time spent perusing online, adding and subtracting to my shopping cart, entering credit card info, remorse when receiving my credit card statements, etc. was time I could have spent doing more important things, like writing, studying, preparing healthy food, meditating, etc.

It’s going to be harder to break the stone collecting habit (they’re so frickin’ cool!) but I’m paying more attention to where they come from, and that’s a start. One thing I love about yoga philosophy is that practicing it doesn’t mean you have to do a complete lifestyle overhaul. I believe I have the freedom to adopt certain lifestyle changes as they speak to me and apply them in small increments. I am not the type of person who can make many drastic changes at once and stick to them. I also understand that yoga is so complex and vast that there is no way in hell any person can go from “non-yogi” to “yogi” in a short span of weeks, months, years, or hell, even an entire lifetime.  Yes, it takes discipline (tapas). It takes study (svadhyaya), and it takes sacrifice, but nowhere in the sutras does it say that these things need to take place in a specific time frame or even an exact order.

I made the decision to start incorporating nuggets of yoga philosophy into my asana classes 11 weeks ago because I’m tired of watching the exploding plague of ignorance in America surrounding the misconception that asana is yoga, and I believe it is my duty (dharma) as a yoga instructor and educator to truly educate my students. I did not expect that a bi-product of that decision would be my own (much needed) personal changes. I’m grateful that by striving to educate my students on the fact that yoga is sooooooooooo much more than asana, I am in turn changing my own habits and behaviors to live more in harmony with my Self, other beings and the universe.