APARIGRAHA – Non-attachment

Aparigraha – the final Yama – translates to “non-attachment”, “non-greed” or “non-possessiveness” (‘graha’ = to take,  ‘pari’ = on all sides, and the prefix ‘a’ = not). It urges us to take only what we need, to hold onto only what serves us in the present moment, and to let go when the time is right. This principle is one of the central teachings in the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna advises: “Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction”. This wisdom emphasizes focusing solely on the present action, detached from its outcomes, prioritizing the journey over the destination. So often we worry if we’ll be successful enough, or ‘good enough’ when we put our hearts on the line to show the world what we’re made of, that we forget why we started in the first place.

Great artists and poets exemplified this principle, creating for the sheer joy of creation. By relinquishing the pursuit of external validation and embracing their passions purely for the love of creation, they lived fulfilled lives.

When non-possessiveness is established, knowledge of the why and wherefore of one’s birth is obtained.


This Yoga sutra underscores that by practicing Aparigraha, letting go of possessiveness and greed, we gain deeper insights into the purpose and meaning of our existence. It emphasizes the importance of detachment from material possessions and desires as a path to attain spiritual understanding and fulfillment.

Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.


Native American wisdom echoes the sentiment of this Yoga sutra : “Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it”. Yet, in our consumer-driven culture, we often accumulate more than necessary, burdening ourselves with physical and emotional baggage. Aparigraha teaches us to discern between our genuine needs and desires born out of a sense of lack. How many clothes do you have in your cupboard that you know you won’t ever wear again? How many gadgets, ornaments, books and shoes do we have that we really just don’t need? Moderation in consumption is key, as excessive possessions weigh us down physically and energetically.

The principle extends beyond material goods to food consumption, with wastage contributing to global hunger despite abundant resources. Many texts advise eating moderately, so as not to disturb our practice, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in particular lists over-eating as a hindrance on the Yogic path. It has been well documented that the world’s ‘blue zones’ (the places in the world with the highest life expectancy, and the healthiest quality of life) eat until about 80% full, so as to allow the body to properly digest and assimilate food. Okinawa in Japan is one of these blue zones, and the phrase ‘Hara Hachi Bu’, meaning ‘eat until you are eight parts full’ originates here. It’s not just how much we eat that is worth considering, but also how much we throw away. 30% – 50% of the food produced in the world ends up as waste. With a growing global population of around 9 billion people, demands for food are growing, but still well over 8 million people in the world go hungry every day. The food currently wasted in Europe could feed around 200 million people, so why are we still being greedy, over-buying and wasting food?

Attachment to positive experiences is naturally human, but clinging to them impedes our growth. The Sanskrit concept of ‘Parinamavada’, meaning ‘everything is in a constant state of flux’, reminds us that change is inherent in life. By embracing both joy and sorrow, light and dark, we enrich our human experience. Happiness, joy and peace are important emotions to feel, but so too is sadness, anger and loss. To experience only the good stuff is to experience only half of what life has to offer. The school of life exists to allow us to experience and learn from every aspect of our being, and to truly live we must not push away the things we don’t want to feel, but allow them to happen, and know that this too shall pass. When we let the moment be what it is without either trying to cling to it, or to push it away, we can really say we’re living in that moment, allowing things to come and go, without the need to possess any of it.

Practical ways to practice Aparigraha

  • Practicing this Yama offers you so much freedom: The freedom to pursue your passions without worrying about the outcomes, the freedom to rely less on external and material possessions to bring you happiness, and the freedom to experience everything life has to offer. What happens when you just let go? Reflect on how you can cultivate a little more ‘non-attachment’, ‘non-greed’ and ‘non possessiveness’ in your live. Pause before acquiring new possessions, reflecting on their true value in bringing lasting happiness or peace. Remind yourself that true fulfillment lies not in possessions but in experiences. Release the urge to control outcomes and focus on the journey itself.
  • Let go of concerns about the future and immerse yourself fully in the present moment, enjoying life as you go.
  • Do you feel limited by others’ perceptions or expectations of you? Tune out those that aren’t truly invested in your growth and success, and remember that you chart the course for your own life. Rewrite the narrative with your actions.
  • Recognize when it’s time to move on. What are you holding onto in your life that might be holding you back?
  • Streamline processes and eliminate unnecessary complexities in your business operations. Focus on what’s essential to deliver value to your customers while reducing waste and inefficiencies.
  • Practice mindful spending by prioritizing investments that align with your core values and long-term objectives. Avoid unnecessary expenses and impulse purchases that don’t contribute to your business growth or personal well-being.
  • Embrace flexibility in your workplace by offering remote work options, flexible schedules, and autonomy to your team members. This approach promotes work-life balance and empowers employees to manage their time effectively.
  • Accept that not every endeavor will lead to the desired results, and learn from both successes and failures without dwelling on them excessively.
  • Embrace change and uncertainty as opportunities for growth rather than resisting them out of fear or attachment to the status quo. Remain adaptable and agile in response to market dynamics and emerging trends.
  • Practice generosity by giving back to your community or supporting causes that resonate with your values. Whether through donations, volunteering, or mentorship, contributing positively to society fosters a sense of interconnectedness and fulfillment.

Integrating these practices into your business and personal lives will enhance creativity, innovation, fulfillment, and ethical conduct as a conscious leader & entrepreneur.

Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction.