What does Marie Kondo have to do with Yoga?
My mom said something to me recently: “Money isn’t everything, once you have enough”. In yoga, we throw around terms like “abundance”, “enough”, “nourish” quite frequently. Abiding by the ideas that the collective universe is full of abundance, and we can always find the right opportunity, once we know where and how to look.
About a year ago, I had some really big career shifts, and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like I had “enough”. I started teaching as many classes as I could on top of a full-time job to be able to pay my bills and I was able to cobble together a sustainable-ish income for myself. My trade-off was time. I quickly found myself to be working 12-14 hour days during the week as well as additional hours on weekends. This part felt unsustainable. I love teaching, and teaching always feels like the best part of my day, but it would never be “enough”. The time and energy to pay ratio does not allow for full-time yoga teachers to exist on group classes alone. I felt like my energy was emptied in excess of what I could create and I was slowing burning out. And this is not unique to yoga teachers - often in a corporate world we find that we are working excessive hours for someone other than ourselves, leading to a sense of emptiness.
In yoga philosophy, there are eight limbs of yoga. The first of the limbs is general observances, or “Yamas”, are a way to begin a mindful way of living. There are five yamas that are primarily discussed in yoga philosophy. Archaically, Brahmacharya (the fourth yama) meant celibacy, but in more western philosophies of yoga, we tend to equate it with “moderation” or “non-excess”. I knew that I needed to realign myself with the ideas of abundance and nourishment in order to fully allow my yoga teaching to take shape. When brahmacharya is practiced with awareness it becomes, in the words of Iyengar, “the battery that sparks the torch of wisdom”. Sitting down to evaluate how I spend my time, I asked myself a few questions related to the yamas: does this feel non-harming to me? (Ahimsa) Does this align with what feels true to my nature? (Satya) Does this allow me to be generous with myself and others? (Asteya) - eventually leading me to the final yama (yoga observance): Aparigraha or non-hoarding.
As I asked the owner of one of my teaching locations if they were willing to be more flexible with my time (I was asked to complete several hours of work for free), I was reminded that many other teachers have not had the opportunities that I have had. He was right. The opportunities available to me at that location were no longer a good fit for me. I decided to let go of that teaching opportunity to make room for something more fulfilling - spiritually and financially. Recognizing that the opportunity no longer fit, I immediately felt a sense of freedom. I learned a valuable lesson in not needing to hoard opportunities if they are not the right fit for me, just because they were the right fit at one time.
Spring is a time of renewal - many of us even go through the physical act of spring cleaning to feel fresh and renewed. I realized that I was going through an energetic spring cleaning. The renewal I was finding was a more confident and rested version of myself. I want to continue to show up for my yoga students and offer high quality sessions in a more personalized and engaged manner. By shifting my time spent, I create abundance in energy and time for others in a new and meaningful way. It’s strange to think that the idea of “enough” actually can begin when we let go. This is probably why KonMar and Minimalism have taken roots in our society - because if we begin to focus on what really matters to us, we are free to be present, free to be open, and may have more willingness to offer what we have to others. Perhaps sparking joy is only one part of the process, of which the next step might be alignment - does the work that you are doing fit with your energy and mind? If we rethink what excess looks like in our lives to not only include physical objects, but also excess use of ourselves, what would you let go?