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July 22, 2023

The 8 limbs of yoga include the Yamas and the last of those yamas is Aparigraha, meaning non-greed, non-covetousness, and non-attachment.

We can be greedy about all sorts of things; yoga postures, knowledge, money - these are all outcomes rather than processes or actions. Aparigraha teaches us to not be attached to outcomes, instead it is suggested we should only concern ourselves with what we’re doing right now. 

When practicing Aparigraha we enjoy the act of a yoga practice, of tasks at work, holiday planning, cooking for friends - without trying to achieve an outcome. Considering that life is made up of moments shouldn't we enjoy each moment for what it is? This teaching is linked with yoga as a practice of being present.

Often when we are concerned with outcomes we are concerning ourselves with a desire to be praised by other people – when we let go of thinking that our happiness is determined by what other people think, and we just act for the love of it – we allow ourselves to live fulfilled and abundant lives. 

Aparigraha on the Mat
In Ashtanga Yoga we are encouraged to keep our eyes and minds in our own space, indeed Ashtanga Yoga has specific looking places for specific postures which prevent our eyes from wandering!

If our yoga practice is not about connecting to ourselves and being present, but about acquiring new asana, or being 'better' than the person we saw on Instagram…we need to work on Aparigraha  ‘non-greed’ and ‘non-attachment’

When I started to practice Ashtanga yoga one of the first things my teacher said to me was 'no books, no videos, no internet yoga' (social media was much less a thing then). I followed that advice and was lucky to not fall into a trap of comparison, I feel that maybe my absolute pure love of the practice is partly because I never experienced the frustration or pride borne from comparison - thanks to this advice.

Practice for the love of practicing

It feels good when an asana gets easier and we should allow ourselves to enjoy that, but it isn't the be all and end all.

The sheer joy of the practice is the greatest reward, realising how freeing it is not to have a specific goal, but to simply move our bodies in a way that feels good. If we practise for the love of practising, without forcing or pushing ourselves beyond our edge, the body will unfold naturally and the more challenging asanas will be accessible with consistent effort.

Aparigraha and being enough

Aparigraha  teaches us that we are enough. Believing that new objects or achieving fancy looking asana will bring us happiness is often based on a feeling of lack, a sense of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not whole without that new thing’, when really we always were and always will be good enough ,no matter what. 

The next time you feel you need to buy or achieve something, take a moment to think why you need it, will it bring lasting happiness? Will it help you find peace? Will it help you live in a more self-reliant and simpler way? 

Aparigraha and accepting impermanence 

Sometimes we are attached to how things are, or what we have, and a great deal of distress can be experienced when they change.

Aparigraha helps us to loive with greater ease by inviting us to be aware that everything is temporary and so we should not be too attached to things as they are. That doesn't mean we shouldn't absolutely enjoy things as they are. Quite the opposite.

  • Knowing that our good health is not permanent helps us to appreciate it more while we have it and to take good care of it.
  • Knowing that our loved ones won't always be physically present can help us to be more present with them now.
  • Knowing that your beautiful ornament might break can help you to take special care and notice of it.

Aparigraha invites us to enjoy what it is, but to not be so attached that the impermanence causes us unbearable distress. To me it also reminds me that physicality isn't permanent but that impression can be if we choose it to be. It teaches me to be fully present with that which I love because I will always have the impression of it.

When Popsie (dad) was nearing the end of his physical life I took extra care to be fully present with him and he did with us too. His passing was of course sad, but I was able to accept and be aware of his impermanence in this life which enabled me to put effort into shaping the lasting impressions which can be permanent within me. 

Aparigraha offers us so much freedom – the freedom to work and do what we love without worrying about the outcome, the freedom to rely less on external and material possessions to bring us happiness, and the freedom to experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be. 

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