The yamas: Thoughts on aparigraha

Hi there, yoga lovers! I’m reposting this reflection on aparigraha from my “Yama Studies” during Teacher Training. Aparigraha is one of the five yamas. It is often translated as ‘non-grasping,’ ‘non-clinging,’ or ‘non-hoarding.’ It came up in class this week, and I thought it would be better to re-post it rather than trying to remember what I had written. 😉


Working on Aparigraha, for me, puts great emphasis on transitioning from an ego-bound identity to identifying primarily as Self. I find that trying to verbalize my experiences with the yamas often conflicts with truly experiencing them. If I practice aparigraha with the thought in mind that I will have to say something coherent about it soon, getting the words right can take over the process. I end up trying to narrate my life rather than live it. This has actually been a very strong attachment in my life- my attachment to words. As I attempt to take a ‘living’ approach to aparigraha, I see that my virtual hoarding of words and stories is indicative of a larger pattern for me. I see that this attachment is only part of my ego’s attempt to build a sense of permanence and security around it. “All these things, all these words- maybe if I can just arrange them in the right way, I will finally know who I am and where I stand. Then, I can tell everyone about it and be a happy, functioning individual,” or so says my ego.

Attachment or hoarding create the cushion that encases my fragile ego. Still, it never achieves the perfect permanence and completeness that it ‘requires’ to feel stable. It needs new things, new descriptions, more!! to gather around it before it can finally feel whole. The trouble is that the more the ego hoards and the larger the cushion grows, the more insulated I become against feeling connected to Life. Ironically, this effort to know who I am keeps me from knowing who I AM. Ego and attachment keep me locked in a limited sense of identity. They keep me from knowing my own eternal nature. So, the practice of aparigraha for me is fundamentally about telling my ego, “It’s not you, it’s me… but I hope we can stay friends,” and letting my Higher Self be my guide. Coming from that perspective, letting go is a much simpler process.



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