Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

The Art of Non-Attachment in Yoga

Discover the final stage of the five yamas, aparigrahā, which teaches a valuable lesson in better understanding the Self and one's role in society in this lifetime.

Author Image
Yoga Advisor

Aparigraha, or non-grasping, is the pinnacle of the five self-restraints (yamas), the moral disciplines described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

There are five yamas and each one can be considered a specific sādhana, a practice leading directly to a goal. All are essential for the practice of yoga. These five include ahimsā (non violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacaryā (maintaining appropriate sexual and physical boundaries with others) and aparigrahā (non-grasping).

Each of the yamas are observances that regulate behavior in relationship to others. Although they are externally oriented and correct our attitude to the world around us in a positive way, it is their effect on the individual observing the vows that is more important for yoga. The practice of the yamas is powerfully transformative internally, bringing greater clarity and stability to the mind, gradually cleaning it so that it may be harnessed and directed toward the Self.

Each of the yamas builds upon the previous one, culminating in aparigrahā, which literally means non-grasping or non-possessiveness, not accumulating, or accepting objects that are unnecessary in daily life. Pattabhi Jois wrote in Yoga Mala that “Only taking as much food as we need to maintain our bodies, and not desiring things of enjoyment, which are superfluous to the physical body, is aparigrahā.” Hence, it is not just eliminating the unnecessary and lessening what we consume, but also working toward a state where we do not desire that which is superfluous. This should be extended to include the perceived possession of intellectual ideas and relationships with others and the world.

As a practice, it is easier to first focus on aparigrahā in relation to material objects, identifying what you can live without and, hopefully, successfully relinquishing it. Subsequently, you may begin to notice you have a similar sense of grasping and possessiveness in regard to intellectual ideas and relationships with others. These are more subtle examples of the grasping mind, but must also be given up. The aim of yoga practice is to bring the mind to a state where we can see clearly without any distortion of the truth, and it is often beliefs about ourselves or others that prevent us from seeing clearly and acting with integrity. We will find clearer perception in all situations when we maintain strict observance of all the yamas, particularly aparigrahā, which is considered as the most difficult.

Related: Connecting to the Seed of Spiritual Knowledge through Yoga

Patanjali writes in the Yoga Sutras that the result of being “firmly established in aparigrahā” is that you gain “a complete knowledge and understanding of your birth.” Through the perfection of the practice of aparigrahā, the mind becomes liberated from an enormous amount of unneeded activity. It would also help us understand the process of desire and the underlying samskāras (mental impressions that come from past experiences) that have caused the mind to grasp toward different kinds of objects.

The identification of our own saṃskāras is akin to understanding our birth since it illuminates the forces, many of which we are born with, that profoundly influence how we interact with the world and how we develop psychologically. Using the same reasoning, many commentators on the Yoga Sutrās, including Swami Vivekananda, interpret this sutra to mean that establishment in aparigrahā leads to a knowledge of our previous birth. Others, such as Swami Satyananda Saraswati, include knowledge of future births as well.

We can also read “a knowledge and understanding of our birth” to mean that we gain knowledge of our own personal dharma (those duties, responsibilities, and talents that are specific to each individual). This allows each one of us to contribute far more effectively to our families, society, and the world around us, and, hence, fulfill the potential that we have for this life.

In practicing aparigrahā, it is important not to become obsessive, but rather to continue to live in a way that is contributive to society. We cannot simply give up everything and live in a cave. For one on the path of yoga who must remain in the world, Krishna addresses this age old problem beautifully as one of his main teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. In discussing karma yoga, he states that we should perform action for action’s sake, but not be attached to the fruits of our actions. In other words, we should do what is right without seeking special merit or recognition for our actions.

This is far easier when we are able to identify our personal dharma and channel our energy in that direction, knowing that there is a higher purpose to life.

Following this philosophy, work and duty become worship, and while aspiring to yoga, we can take part in the world and enjoy it, maintaining a feeling that “This is not me, this is not mine.” For a spiritual seeker, the attitude of aparigrahā is central to these teachings and once the sense of ownership over physical and intellectual possessions is relinquished, the mind becomes liberated for a deeper internal inquiry into the Self, the goal of yoga.



Comments (0)

An Expert Guide to Crow Pose

Download Sonima’s comprehensive guide to this exciting “reach” posture and enjoy the benefits of expert instruction at home!

Get the Guide

Load More

Find us on Instagram

  • After watching our most recent IGTV episode of ‘Ask Harmony’ you might be wondering “What is Ayurveda and how can it improve your health?” .
In this article, Ayurvedic healer Katie Silcox, explains how this ancient approach to nutrition and healing can help you find balance no matter where you are living or how hectic your schedule may be. .

Follow our bio link to

@katiesilcox_shaktischool .
Photo by @fokuscreations 
#ayurveda #ayurvedalifestyle #ayurvedafood #ayurvedicmedicine #ayurvediccooking #ayurvedalife #ayurvedaeveryday #ayurvedayoga #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #yogicdiet #yogadiet #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife 
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #balancediet #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #brainhealth #mindbodyconnection
  • . .
Coffee aggravates both vata and pitta doshas and can act as a digestive irritant and adrenal stimulant. 
In excess it can cause problems such as: gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, adrenal 
exhaustion, chronic fatigue, insomnia, panic disorders, anxiety and irritability. 
People with high pitta (fire and water) or high vata (air and ether) in their constitutions, should either avoid it completely or be very cautious in their consumption. 
However, coffee can be somewhat balancing for people with a kapha (water and earth) constitution. Coffee’s hot, dry, stimulating qualities counterbalance the  heavy, wet, sluggish qualities present in the kapha dosha. 
Some good alternatives for vata and pitta types can be warm lemon water, ginger tea or coriander tea.
  • “If we can learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” .
— Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, in Shanksville, PA

Photo compliments of the very talented New Jersey Photographer Alex C. • @captiv_8 “Lighting towards the heavens” .
#911anniversary #911neverforget #911legendsneverdie #september11 #911tribute #911memorial #neverforget #remembering911 #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #twintowers #lovewins #standtogether #strongertogether #loveoverhate #loveoverfear
  • Some fats are far better for you than others, but what are the best sources of them and how can we incorporate these foods into our diets?

Find out by reading the article linked in our bio. .
#dietplan #keto #ketodiet #fatisfuel #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #yogicdiet #yogadiet #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife 
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #balancediet #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #brainhealth #mindbodyconnection #goodfats #healthyfats
  • Happy Monday! 
Repeat: “Today, I am Perfect.” Words have the power to shape our reality. 
Start your week off on a positive note, and end negative self-talk forever. .
#mondaymotivation #mondaymantra #mondaymood #mantramonday #positivethoughts #positiveaffirmations #affirmationsoftheday #dailyaffirmations 
#attitudequotes #attitudeofgratitude #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution
  • “Yoga is natural and it’s a process that occurs over time. Asana, on the other hand, does not happen naturally. To be effective in yoga, it requires learning a method. Both take time, like what is required with any transformation. Though you can eventually live in yoga naturally without effort, doing too much asana is never good.” - Sharath Jois - 
Read the full article. Follow our bio link. 🙏🏽 @sharathjoisr .
Photo compliments of @ifilmyoga 💗
#sharathjois #paramagurusharathjois #sharathjoisusa2019 #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife #fitnesstransformation #workouttips #workouttipoftheday #plankchallenge
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #ashtangayoga #ashtangaprimaryseries #ashtangavinyasayoga #ashtangapractice
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!