Yoga Philosophy: Aparigraha, The Fifth Principle Of Yama


The fifth and final principle of yama is aparigraha. It’s is closely related to asteya, the principle of abundance. Though they both go hand in hand, there are slight differences between the two.

What Is Aparigraha?

Aparigraha translates from Sanskrit as non-possessiveness, non-greediness, non-attachment, or non-hoarding. That doesn’t mean getting rid of everything you own, but rather – having only what you need to survive and not holding on to anything that no longer serves you.

Thus, a more positive interpretation of aparigraha would be letting go. That would extend to not only belongings, but people, feelings, beliefs, and other. As if you were moving through life with a limited amount of luggage.

Below, I’ve listed some ideas of how you can apply aparigraha to your daily life.

Aparigraha in Relationships

You may have found yourself in a relationship that isn’t making you happy. This may be a romantic interest, a friend, a business partner, or any other sort of a connection.

Many people whom we meet throughout our lives will only temporarily stay by our side. We learn certain things from each other and part our ways.

If someone decided to go, respect their wish. Similarly, you shouldn’t stay if you see that the relationship is doing harm to either one of you.

If the relationship is fine, make sure not to cling to the other person. Being happy together is great, but it’s important to give each other space and some “me” time. Constantly being by someone’s side may be overwhelming and exhausting. Especially if one is an introvert.

Give your partner or friend some room to breathe. Let them go for a walk on their own, read a book, have a coffee with an old friend, or go on a trip by themselves.

Doing things separately doesn’t necessarily mean you’re growing apart or don’t care about each other. In a healthy and balanced relationship, it means trust and respect toward the other’s needs. It’s required for the growth and satisfaction of each partner.

Aparigraha to Yourself

Take a look at the material possessions you own. How many clothes have you not worn in years? How many things have you have stored just in case you may need them one day?

Sort them out and get rid of anything that doesn’t serve you anymore. There is no need to toss them in the trash. You can reuse, tailor, donate, sell, swap, or give away anything you’re not using anymore.

Once you do so, shop wisely. Get things because you actually need them and will use them. Don’t purchase something simply because it’s a newer model, cheap, on sale, or comes in those “buy 2, get 1 for free” promotions.

A line from Fight Club says it best, “The things you own end up owning you.” When we’re attached to our belongings, we constantly worry about having them damaged or stolen and suffer even if nothing ever happens to them.

Letting go doesn’t only include possessions, but also emotional baggage. We all are carrying some, such as fears, grudges, resentment, and expectations. Whatever that is, try to let that go.

We can’t get rid of or change the past, but we can choose how we live now and in the future. You can either let it weigh you down and stop you from doing what you really want, or you can come to terms with it, and move on.

Letting go isn’t easy, but it’s liberating and it opens a ton of new possibilities and experiences to you.

Aparigraha in Asana Practice

Going to a yoga class can sometimes be a challenging experience. You may come to relax. Instead, you may find yourself looking around at other practitioners wishing that you were half as strong or flexible as them. Eventually, you may leave feeling down and deflated.

Yoga shouldn’t be a place for comparisons. It’s an internal practice. It aims to bring the practice inwards, discover what we’re truly are, and make us feel better and happier.

Concentrate on your own body, sensations, and practice. Set your own personal goals, and do your best to achieve them.

Aparigraha can also be practiced during physically challenging postures. How? What’s a pose that you really dislike? Try doing it for me and come right back, will you?

Did you hold your breath? Or maybe you got really tense?

Frequently, when doing something that challenges our strength, we hold our breath. We do that to protect ourselves from additional pain. But, in actuality, we may be causing ourselves harm.

While holding the breath, we’re keeping extra carbon dioxide in our bodies. That decreases blood flow to the brain and heart, and puts extra stress on our blood vessels.

We also may be tensing certain muscles if a pose is too challenging for our flexibility level. While this may feel like a relief, we may actually be sabotaging our progress in the long run by not releasing the muscles that the pose targets.

Final Thought

Imagine if you were going on holiday with absolutely everything that you own. Instead of relaxing, enjoying yourself and doing exciting new things, you’ll likely end up exhausted and preoccupied.

Life’s kind of like that. You may miss out on a lot if you’re not willing to leave anything behind.

Let’s Talk!

How do you practice aparigraha in your life? Perhaps you can think of other tips that you can share.

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