Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yoga on Sundays :: Simplicity = Happiness

On the eve of Spring a few things come to mind...sunshine, blooms, Spring cleaning. A chance to declutter, detox and simplify while basking in the warmth I have so missed this winter.

I see it as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why simplicity brings with it happiness and contentment. I have always loved being surrounded by beautiful things and I am a self-confessed hoarder. But since beginning my yoga practice I have noticed a desire to clear space in our home. To rid my life of uneccessary clutter and come to know beauty in the simple, the natural, the pre-loved - an etching in the ground, a shadow on the wall, a vintage blanket.

Simple living is not a new concept. In the 60s and 70s, free-loving hippies were attracted to simplicity for reasons such as ecological sustainability. Those on the spiritual path have done and still do live with very few possessions. By doing so they rid their lives of unnecessary distraction so they can focus on their journey towards enlightenment. Today, ordinary people are becoming more conscious of what they eat, what they buy and how they travel.

As we become more educated and more aware of how our living is affecting our world we are voluntarily leading simpler lives. In the seminal yoga text Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, 10 principles are outlined that are crucial to one's progress on the yogic path. One of these is aparigraha, often translated to 'greedlessness'. Keeping only what you need and wanting only what you need - a life with no desire of or attachment to 'things'. Resisting the temptation of materialism and embracing simplicity. Yes it's a beautiful theory but for most of us it is rather challenging to accomplish. But, of course, it can be done on a small scale and as with every aspect of yoga simply being aware of your actions is a form of 'yoga practice'.

If you are going to declutter your home make the new, cleared space purposeful. Create a reading corner, a sewing corner, a meditation space. Be sure the clutter will not return. Be more conscious of what you buy...ask yourself whether you really need it. Revel in the wonderful world of thrifting and handmade. Simplicity can easily provoke creativity, thought and focus. And be honest, ask yourself what truly makes you happy? A brand-new piece of clothing or the vintage gem you found for $5 at the second-hand store. Simplicity doesn't mean you have to stop buying new clothes. Instead take on the French attitude - only buy a few items that you love, love, love.

Simplicity is about discovering what you truly value. When you are surrounded by things that you love and that you value, you will be in happy in your space.

For the past few days I have been thinking about this post and each day I have asked myself what makes me happy. The list goes like this:

  • a cheeky grin
  • a cuddle
  • home-cooked meals
  • a cup of tea
  • picking flowers with my boys

...and it just so happens that each time I have glanced at the vase holding those freshly-picked blooms I have felt happy. Content.

It's the simple things, isn't it?

And often it's the simple things that we are most thankful for. I am so looking forward to September. There's much to be thankful for in the next 30 days. And so each day i will post a bit of gratitude - in pictures, words, or both. 30 days of gratitude. In September.


  1. Mmm - a delightful post. Love those photos too, they are gorgeous.

  2. I agree with your thoughts on simplicity - it has been on my mind for a long time too. To clear out, declutter, let go...but I struggle to do that. I have to ask myself why do I need this "stuff" and maybe I will realise I dont and slowly clear some space.

  3. Well said! I find that springs always brings with it an usrge to de-clutter. I tend to buy mostly second-hand...but even that can get too much. especially when you're paying so little for something so great.
    I want to apprecaite immaterial things like the sunshine,shadows, friendships,memories etc.