Sacred Principles of Yoga, Part III - Aparigraha

Would you ever admit to being greedy?Greed, attachment and how to change

I mean, not necessarily all of the time, but during certain moments of your life?

It’s a difficult question to answer, isn’t it, since greed is so hard to define. Also, it requires deep self-analysis as well as utter honesty.

Today’s Sacred Principle is Aparigraha. It is from Yoga’s set of ‘moral codes’ (Yamas) and can be translated into ‘non-hoarding, non-possessiveness and non-attachment’. We all encounter these concepts on a daily basis. So much so, that a better understanding of them could greatly enrich your life by changing the way you see the world and your relationship to it.

If you believe this and are interested in creating change for yourself, where would you start?

Let’s begin by addressing the role it plays in our lives. Aparigraha’s constant relevance is apparent in most aspects of people’s lives since it perpetually returns us to the question “what do I really need?”. I’m sure it’s no surprise that this is a difficult question to answer. It seems to open a whole new can of worms,  since it raises so many more questions, such as ‘what defines a need?’.

So, a good place to start would be to keep it simple and ask yourself 'do I feel possessive or attached to the things I own?'.

You clearly don't have to hoard things to feel attached to them. You don't really have to own very much to feel possessive or to want more. In fact, it seems to me that wanting more is a deeply-rooted human desire that we all experience.

So, if you really wanted to let it go. how would you work with this feeling, particularly when we are being perpetually bombarded by the media to keep doing exactly that?

The answer is: we sit with it. We meditate. We watch the feeling and the desire in a non-judgmental, non-reactive way until, with time, it subsides. Or it doesn’t, and we continue feeling it objectively.

What you will most likely find is that greed, or the feeling of wanting more, comes from the belief that you are lacking. That you ‘don’t have enough’ or ‘are not enough’. This is a common feeling for many of us, and the irony is, getting more is not at all satisfying, regardless whether it is simply attention from others, or more and more stuff.

In fact, getting more often makes you continue to want more.

So sitting with this feeling, without judging or reacting, makes you realize that you do not have to feed it. This is the essence of mindfulness, and what the eight limbs of yoga are all about. The eight fold path helps us quiet the mind and bring peace within us, which is the starting point of true self-reflection.

Take some time in silence, with the intention to better understand your relationship to the objects and the people in your life.

Keep returning to the questions: ‘what is my relationship to this?’, ‘what would happen if this was no longer in my life?’ and ‘could I let go?’.

David Procyshyn, Founder


David Procyshyn is a yogi, massage practitioner, videographer, father and founder of He currently lives with his two year old son, Noah, in Victoria, BC, Canada.

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donfeaz 5 years ago

As I was reading through your article, I was thinking about a new building project I drive by to and from work. I wondered for quite some time what it was that they were building. Now that it is taking shape, I realize that it is a storage facility. I don't know about in your area, but here in Virginia Beach, Virginia storage facilities have popped up all over this area over the last twenty years. Some of it has to do with the growth of the military presence in this area. Military temporarily store their belonging while on deployment.

For others, they refuse to part with their belongings. When their homes are no longer able to hold everything they have, they rent out space at a storage facility to hold onto it "just in case" they need it.

One final thought, even a homeless person will fight for what is in their shopping cart.

We have been sold a bill of goods that our worth is derived from how much material we own and not simply from who we as a human being.

David Procyshyn 5 years ago

Nicely said, donfeaz.

I like your take on this very important principle.


DoYogaWithMe Founder

pharlow60 5 years ago

Thank you for the simple, yet deep challenge. I have always heard that spiritually improves but subtraction, not addition. We need less, not more. So counter-culture!!