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Too Much of a Good Thing: Aparigraha


My favorite Austin haunt: Mozart's Coffee on Lake Austin

This week, after months and months of dreaming and planning and nervous-nellying, I took the rather large and scary step of moving back to my hometown of Austin, TX. Yes, my yoga studio - and the community that has surrounded and supported me for the past four years, not to mention my sole source of income - is still in DC. But over the past year it has become clear to me that my heart is not, no matter how much I love ESY.


While I'm super excited about the move, making it was really, really difficult. Because it required me to leave behind something that I love so, so much.


And so I've been thinking a lot about Aparigraha, the fifth yama (restraint) of the Yoga Sutras*. It translates to non-attachment, but more specifically, non-greed. So we're talking about attachment to things that we like, that make us feel good, and even sometimes that we think are good for us.


In the past, when I've thought about Aparigraha, the old adage "too much of a good thing" came to mind. And yes, it is true that bingeing on a "good" thing is pretty much never a good idea. When you overdo it, the good thing no longer feels good.


But this transition has allowed me to view this concept in a new, more nuanced light. Because sometimes, a thing may feel good and even still be good for you, but it's just taking up too much space in your life. Meaning that there's no space for growth, or for anything else to come into your life. So even though the thing still makes you feel good, you need to loosen up your attachment to it in order to make space for better things.


Case in point: I love ESY with all my heart. Whether I'm teaching or taking class or just hanging in the lobby hobnobbing with my clients and team, every moment spent in that place brings me a level of joy and fulfillment that nothing else ever has.


But.


For the past year or so, I'd begun to notice that my time in the studio was truly the happiest part of my day. And that the rest of my day was kind of...meh, at best. I spent the whole day alone, working from home or from a coffeeshop, squeezing in a workout here and there, maybe an occasional lunch or coffee with the rare friend whose schedule was as flexible as mine. Then I'd go to the studio and have an amazing time, but by the time I left, it was so late and I was so drained that any kind of socializing was usually out of the question. Sometimes I'd meet friends for a late dinner or jam session, but I was usually too tired to fully enjoy the experience.


Tired. I was so tired. Mentally and emotionally, the studio was taking up so much of my bandwidth that I had almost nothing left for my personal life. And physically, I just wasn't taking care of myself the way I used to. Truthfully, I don't have a good explanation for that last bit. (But I suspect that my lifelong struggle with depression had something to do with it.) All I know is that I had lost my motivation to be active, and that was a big sign that something was not right with me.


I had also gone from a total extravert with a packed social calendar to a veritable introvert. And that was a version of myself that I barely recognized. What I DID recognize was that that version of myself was *not* healthy for me, because I know that I truly thrive and am at my best when I'm interacting and connecting with people in a meaningful way on a regular basis. Just like when I knew it was time to leave the legal world, I had turned into someone I didn't want to be. Something clearly needed to change.


And so as much as I loved what I had created in ESY, it became very clear to me that my life was out of balance. I needed to learn how to run (and enjoy) my business without giving 500% of myself to it.


Because I had gotten greedy with ESY. I loved the way that teaching and serving my clients and mentoring my team made me feel. I loved it so much that I let it overshadow all of the other areas of my life. I loved it so much that I devoted all my time and energy to it, so that there was nothing left for anyone or anything else.


And that's what made this transition so difficult. (And why it took me so long to make it happen!) Because, unlike my lawyer transition, I wasn't leaving a situation that made me unhappy or unfulfilled. This was much more complicated. I was choosing to distance myself from something that still brought me joy and fulfillment - possibly more joy and fulfillment than anything else ever had.


But I recognized that that wasn't enough. Or, perhaps more accurately, that it wasn't healthy. I needed to rebalance my life. I didn't need to let go completely, but I definitely needed to loosen up my attachment. I had gotten greedy with this thing I loved so much, and that needed to change.


So that's my Aparigraha story. Got one of your own? Leave a comment here or on my Instagram, or drop me a line - you know I love to hear from y'all!


*The Yoga Sutras are the seminal text in which our yoga practice is rooted. The Yamas (and their counterparts, their Niyamas), are basically guidelines for how to behave in order to live your best life.

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