Many yogis explore the 8 limbs of yoga to live healthier and more balanced lives. The yamas, the first limb of yoga, include 5 ethical ideas to practice on and off your yoga mat. The final yama, aparigraha, is all about letting go of greed and detaching from things that are not important in life.

Exploring this yama can be a great way to take your mind off things that bring you down and put your energy into the things that really matter. Whether you are new to this practice or seasoned in the art of aparigraha, here is an overview of this yama and a few ways to explore it.


Understanding and Practicing Aparigraha

Understanding aparigraha can help you focus your energy and let go of things that plague you. Start exploring this yama through the following overview and by trying a few ways to practice it on and off your yoga mat.

What is Aparigraha?

Aparigraha translates to “detachment,” “non-greed,” and “non-possessiveness.” This practice is all about letting go of things that do not serve you and stepping away from greed. Exploring this yama also means embracing the current moment and not holding on to lingering or fleeting things of the past.

Some yogis may put aparigraha into action by literally cleaning out their homes and getting rid of things they do not need. Others may practice it in a more abstract sense. For example, this may mean finding ways to focus on the moment at hand instead of the past or the future, or moving away from relationships that bring you down.

Aparigraha On Your Mat

Exploring this yama on your mat is a great way to bring aparigraha into your life. If you are hoping to embrace the final yama on your yoga mat, try some of the following.

  • Let go of outside thoughts when you step onto your yoga mat. Letting go of thoughts from work, family, or friends when you step onto your yoga mat is a simple way to start practicing this yama. Instead of ruminating on work or school during yoga class, bring your full attention to your practice. When you feel your mind start to wander, try to gently focus your thoughts on your breath.
  • Think about your movements, not your end goal. Embracing the current moment rather than focusing on your desired outcome is another way to practice aparigraha on your mat. Many yogis will start their yoga class with a certain outcome in mind such as wanting to get in a workout or to master a specific pose. While having a goal can help you shape your yoga practice, be sure to also bring your attention to the simple pleasure of moving your body through asanas.
  • Meditate. Practicing meditation is another ideal way to move away from distractions and bring your focus inward. Trying mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, or other meditation techniques can help you let go of the world around you and live in the present moment.

Aparigraha Off The Mat

Bringing the fifth yama off your yoga mat can also help you live a happy and peaceful life. If you are interested in practicing the art of letting go, try some of the following.

  • Clean your space. Decluttering your home and office is one of the simplest ways to put this yama into action. If you have piles of old clothes you no longer wear or stacks of papers you have not looked at in years lying around your house, spend some time cleaning up. Getting rid of small things you do not need can open up space in your life and prepare you to let go of larger things too.
  • Stop overthinking. Ruminating on things you are worried about or problems outside of your control is a common tendency. Finding ways to stop overthinking, especially about things you cannot change, is another tangible way to practice this yama off your mat. Stopping this habit by catching yourself in the act and redirecting your energy to something more productive such as exercise or meditation is a tangible way to stop overthinking!

Embracing mindfulness may also help you move away from this tendency. Finding ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life can help you be content with the things you have in life and reduce your desire to have more!

Learn The Art Of Letting Go

Exploring some concrete ways to move away from things that no longer serve you in life is another strategy for putting aparigraha into action. Having some strategies to let go of big and small things in your life can give you actionable ways to practice the art of letting go. Try some of the following methods for practicing detachment:

  • Think about what is and what is not within your control. Taking some time to identify whether or not you have control over outcomes in your life may help you put into perspective how you are wasting energy on things you cannot change.
  • Identify small steps to let go of unhealthy practices or relationships in your life. Looking into simple ways you can make positive change in your life is a great way to start practicing aparigraha.
  • Focus your energy on what you are gaining. Sometimes the best part of letting things go is making room for new positive things in your life. Rather than thinking about what you have to lose, reshape your thinking to what you have to gain by moving away from negative things in your life.

To continue exploring the yamas and limbs of yoga with us, check out our guide to brahmacharya and a breakdown of Samadhi, the final limb of yoga.

Megan Herndon
Author

Megan is a Seattle-based writer who covers health and wellness. She has worked in content marketing and journalism for a number of organizations including The Seattle Globalist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Jakarta Globe. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently working on her second UW degree, a Master of Communication and Digital Media. Born and raised in Hawaii and currently embracing the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, Megan loves all things active and outdoors including hiking, camping, outrigger canoe paddling, and yoga.

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