Aparigraha is the last Yama in Patanjali’s eight limbs of ashtanga yoga. The 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga are qualities/conducts of living that we can all cultivate into our lives. This helps us let go of attachment and make us happier people as a whole.
Aparigraha translates as ‘non greed’ or ‘non possessiveness’. Non-possessiveness is the concept I’m going to dig into today and how it relates to today’s world also how we can apply it within our yoga practice.
Attachment in Life
In this a time of societal ideals and brainwashing. We are forced to believe that what we have isn’t good enough and that ‘happiness’ can be bought in the shops or online.
We are made to believe that until we have the next big thing, the perfect amount of cash or a specific look we cannot be happy.
When the truth is, if you look to materialism, possessions, looks or power to make you happy.
You’re as good as going to the butchers to buy a cabbage; You’re looking in the wrong place.
Looking outside ourselves
External concepts never bring happiness. The more we grasp for these things, the more we believe that the perfect human life comes from the way we look or what we have. The more unhappy we will become because again we are looking for something outside that can only be found inside.
Aparigraha (non-attachment) doesn’t mean throw away all your belongings and live in the middle of a field with nothing and meditate all day, Ha! Although that does sound quite appealing at times.
Possessions don’t define you
The practice of non-attachment when it comes to physical possessions is about not becoming attached to what we have. Not letting our earthly possessions define the state of our existence. As we know from the current chaos with the CoronaVirus, nothing is set in stone and the world is continuously in flux. The more we cling onto, the more we can lose. When we learn to let go of the things we cling onto, we will not feel remorse when we lose them.
Just as we can cling onto possessions, we can also cling onto unwanted thoughts and patterns of behaviour. We can use the practice of aparigraha in our daily mindfulness as a way to let go of unnecessary and unwanted thought, anxiety, stress, obsessive thought.
Practicing Non-Attachment on the Yoga Mat
So, how can we start to work with the practice of non-attachment on the yoga mat? Unfortunately, yoga in the West has in many cases become about what we can gain. Swanky leggings, impressive poses, a certain look etc. But in truth, yoga is actually partly about what we have the courage to let go of, pride, ego, competition etc.
Poses are there to challenge the perceptions of the mind and to test our psyche. When we fall out of a pose we have the option to feel defeated and annoyed with ourselves for not completing the pose that we so desperately want to do or we have the option to let go of the fact we can’t do it and feel peace and move on.
Perfect postures and ‘grasping’ to perform them is not the practice of yoga, having the ability to let go of our need to perform them and be happy without them with a detached head. This is the practice of yoga. This is the practice of aparigraha on the mat.
The more we practice aparigraha on the mat, the easier and more habitual letting go becomes in real life.