The fifth and final Yama is Aparigraha, meaning non-attachment or non-greed. This Yama asks us to examine what we hold on to and what we are willing to release. The could be possessions or emotions.
Often times in yoga classes, I've heard teachers ask students to 'let go of what is not serving you.' Now, while this seems like a fairly simple request, it is and it isn't. During a 90-minute class, I can let go of negative self talk or resistance I may experience. These are things that I can do in a moment without much work. While the hope is I will take these lessons into my life on a larger scale, I have to admit, this is where the hard work starts.
To "let go of what is not serving me" requires that I take a good hard look at myself. What am I holding on to and why? This examination needs to include both the material and the intangible. Going through closets and cupboards and letting go of jeans that don't fit or plastic utensils I keep around for "just in case," is no big deal. Getting rid of that sentimental tchotchke or dress that is gathering dust and taking up space may be more of a struggle. And looking deep within and releasing long-held emotions is equally as difficult. How do these emotions inform the stories I tell about myself? Do I even consider that these stories I believe about myself are no longer true? Do I consider where these stories came from? Am I willing to let go and recreate myself or is it more comfortable to stay with the statue quo?
While all this releasing from attachments is going on, I also have to take steps to not fill the voids with new stuff. This is where non-greed comes in. Getting rid of something doesn't require that it's replace with something new. Nor do I have to horde and stockpile the things I like. It's a good rule of thumb to take what I need and what I will use. No more, no less. This is where true freedom comes in. Without all of this stuff holding me back, I feel lighter. Less encumbered. Free.