Sutra I.12 – Chapter I, Sutra 12

 अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१२॥


Mastery of those (tat) – the activities of the mind – is cultivated through practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagyam).

PRACTICAL LIVING     Patanjali has told us previously that Yoga is the ability to choose, focus and sustain (Sutra I.2), which requires commitment and will lead us to experience inner peace (Sutra I.3). In this sutra, Patanjali offers the first solution to cultivate that one-pointed mind. Like two sides of the same coin, we are told that we need to both practice and detach. Abhyasa (practice) is the ability to be engaged and act in life. It refers to all of the other solutions that Patanjali will later offer in Chapters 1 and 2. Merely having knowledge of these solutions is not enough: we need to act. Our personal practices remind us of that. Abhyasa reminds us that reflection is not enough, doing needs to happen as well. The actions are ideally those which help us cultivate a more focused and joyful state. This involves our relationships, our lifestyle, our thoughts, emotions, and life.

Vairagya (detachment) is absolutely necessary. There is a significant part of life that we have no control over. If we can consciously understand and remember that, letting go and allowing life to unfold in its own time allows us to cultivate vairagya. Many of us struggle with letting go – we have a need to control and know everything. Therefore, we could say that vairagya is also abhyasa for most of us: the more we practice letting go, the easier it becomes. Vairagya is also related to being okay with space. During my last trip to India one of the wonderful teachers explained this concept as the difference between grabbing onto an object as opposed to holding it in the palm of our hand. In grasping, there is a passionate attachment that eventually leads to suffering. However, in holding there is space for that object to leave when it’s the right time. What can we do to ensure that we are acting to lead an AMAZING life, yet allowing life to run its course, trusting that we will be okay? Sraddha (faith or conviction) is a key component in the abhyasa-vairagya relationship. But more on that in a few weeks :). My teacher, Robert, translates this sutra as the replacement therapy sutra: let go of one destructive thought/behavior and replace it with another more constructive action!

IN THE YOGA WORLD     This idea of practice and detachment is revisited throughout the sutras. Chapter 2 begins with the concept of Kriya Yoga, reminding us of abhyasa-vairagya with the concept of tapas (action, refinement), svadhyaya (self-reflection), and isvarapranidhana (letting go of the results and focusing on the quality of the action). Later in Chapter 2, the 8 limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) provides many opportunities to practice abhyasa. The yamas (relationships), niyamas (lifestyle), asana (body) and pranayama (breathing practices) are all limbs that allow us to engage with the world and practice certain qualities. Your abhyasa today could be: choose ONE of the yamas (ex: kindness, honesty or moderation) to dedicate yourself to and practice for a sustained period of time. The other 4 limbs – pratyahara (control of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (complete absorption) could be related to vairagya. These last 4 limbs are the fruits or results of the practices of the first 4 limbs. Since they are more subtle or internal, they are listed after the more external parts of life that we should be working on (more easily accessible to the mind, which tends to focus on the external).

The abhyasa-vairagya partnership is one of the fundamental concepts of Yoga, allowing us to act and let go on a daily basis. Abhyasa is a movement towards our internal world. Vairagya is necessary in order to let go of the attachment the senses have to external objects. Can we put down our phones and practice breathing (pranayama) for a few minutes every day?

Are there any thoughts, belief systems or actions that you are currently practicing that you could let go of and replace with new, more constructive ones? If you are having a hard time doing this alone, find a teacher, someone who can guide you, who can point the way so you take the action and walk the path 🙂


Natasha inspires me, truly. Her presence and attitude towards life makes me smile. I

Practice and Let Go

Practice and Let Go

have known her since we were 6 years old, but have gradually become closer friends in the past decade. This woman engages with life in a way that brings me joy. This active role she plays is reflected in her positive and fun relationships. She works hard when it is required, and she plays hard because it brings her closer to people and brings her immense joy. Her presence is felt: she is noticed wherever she is because of her active and joyful attitude towards every situation she is in. She brings joy to herself and others: that inspires me! Her wisdom in detachment is also great: she has lived some challenging losses in her life and I admire her reaction to it: she allows herself time to experience the loss but also allows life to bring new people and wonderful moments to her life.

Na, thank you for your inspiring personality and life! Every time we talk or spend time together I am invigorated! Te adoro amiga!

Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!

Thanks and we will look at abhyasa (practice) in more depth!

58 thoughts on “Sutra I.12 – Chapter I, Sutra 12

  1. One thing that I have been working on detaching from is browsing the internet such as facebook as much when I get home from work and yoga. Since I don’t have a great deal of commitments aside from work and yoga, I tend to have a lot of free time on my hands. Instead of going on facebook, I have been learning different languages from Rosetta Stone. For me this is a lot of fun because I love to learn languages and just learn in general. I’m not perfect by any means and still tend to go on the internet with my free time after I do a couple Rosetta Stone lessons, but I’m aware of this, and I’m working on changing this samskara. 🙂

    • Great life example. Visualize the following scene: a 5-year old child has a marker and scribbling all over the walls. You want him to stop. You ask for the marker and he says “no!”. You still want the marker so instead, you decide to offer him a toy truck that you have since you know he loves trucks. When he sees the truck, he completely forgets about the marker, drops it on the floor and now he no longer is scribbling on the walls. Just like a 5-year old, we need something to replace that marker with. What can you replace surfing the internet with? You came up with a brilliant solution: learning a language. Can you call someone who speaks that language so you can chat for a little bit in that language?

  2. I love when I read a particular Sutra in the exact time in my life that I need to read it. This is one of those times! I am feeling inspired for the New Year in pursuit of many intentions. One of them being a career doing what I love in teaching Yoga. I also have several Samskaras that I am looking to change in my life. Yet, this inspiration and excitement can lead me to an anxious and overwhelmed place. The reason being that I tend to see and do things in the black and white and wanting things to happen immediately. Life doesn’t work that way. I must live my Yoga practive (Abhyasa) each day to reach my Bhavana and continue my growth on the Yoga path.This area is not hard for me, its the letting go or detachment I struggle with-Vairagya. Life has showed me time and time again how I don’t have control over it or the timing in its beauty. I must practice Vairagya to live fully in each moment as a step toward my Bhavana instead of working to know all the answers immediately-which causes suffering. I come into the New Year with this intention as the focus-letting go of the timing in 2013 and surrendering to all outside my control. Yet, dedicating my life to the practice so I may reach my Bhavana and further inner peace and contentment. I also realize this will not be an easy task and must let go when Samskaras surface, as they will continue to do so. Its all a journey!! So excited for what is in store this year. Namaste

    • Thank you for sharing 🙂 Vairagya is a continuous process for all of us. We grab, we want to control, we want to know, and al of that we want NOW! It happens gradually…we are able to let go of some objects at first, then slowly the objects become more subtle (thoughts, ideas, distorted values…). And as we practice vairagya, life becomes lighter and lighter…

  3. Pingback: Sutra I.14 – Chapter I, Sutra 14 | weeklysutra

  4. Vairagya (detachment) is very hard for me to master. Not having control over situations in life and what is going to happen to my in the future (in some ways) is very hard for me to do. One situation where Vairagya always pops up is flying. I have recently figured out why I have a fear of flying, and its because I dont have contol over the plane. Flying always and still amazes me, how can a plane that weighs a couple tons, fly in the air? I think not being able to control what will happen to me while flying and my fear of heights has created this fear. I do not let this fear have an impact on me, since I have a love to travel and see the world, but I still get nervous when there is turbulence and sometimes my heart beat will increase alone with sweaty palms 🙂 I have recently started to breathe when I get scared. I use my Ujjayi breathe to keep my calm and focused. My breathe calms me down and allows me to focus on something other than the turbulence.

  5. Lu, what an absolute honour to have been featured as an inspirational person in your weekly sutra. Your words and teachings inspire me. Thank you!
    Te adoro amiga Linda! xxx

  6. Lu, Thank you my wonderful friend for your beautiful words. I feel honoured to have been featured as an inspirational person in your Weekly Sutra blog. You inspire me with the way you lead your life. Thank you for sharing with us these weekly posts and teachings… they are a blessing to read and a great escape from every days hectic life. I try to follow it as much as I can and put it into practice as much as possible. Thank you amiga.
    Te adoro demais e amo seu estilo de vida xxx

  7. Pingback: Sutra I.16 – Chapter I, Sutra 16 | weeklysutra

  8. Pingback: Sutra I.18 – Chapter I, Sutra 18 | weeklysutra

  9. Pingback: Sutra I.21 – Chapter I, Sutra 21 | weeklysutra

  10. I am kinda a ‘control freak’ so ‘letting go’ is extremely hard..I struggle with it daily but Im noticing it is getting easier to like Daniel said, haha get off of facebook or anything else that isnt productive and using my time/life wisely taking guitar lessons or simply just going outside. It really makes a difference.

  11. Pingback: Sutra I.29 – Chapter I, Sutra 29 | weeklysutra

  12. In my life, I have found that for me, letting go (Vairagya) is not something I struggle with often. I rarely hold on to people, things, or to negative feelings, and generally feel pretty comfortable with life’s constant changes. Now this is not to say that letting go is a cake walk, I definitely experience the difficulty and pain of letting go, but after I have gone through the difficulty, I find myself very resilient and moving on to the next thing with no second thought. However, I struggle immensely with practice (abhyasa). I usually know what is best or me or what actions should be taken to accomplish a certain goal in my life. For example, I know that to be more organized, I should designate time each day or week to straightening my belongings and taking care of business. Despite the explicit knowledge of this, though, I often just won’t. Maybe because sometimes the things we HAVE to do aren’t as fun as the things we WANT to do, and are fairly easy to ignore until they’ve spiraled out of control (which happens to me more than I’d like to admit). I still feel largely confused on how to get myself to be more active in practicing positive change, but certain things about this journey, such my personal practice, are starting to add some structure and commitment to my life. I believe I just need more things like this, that serve as little bookends, to add some more committed practice to my life. Someday I will get there.

  13. I am not generally one who has an issue with doing. If I set my mind to something I can focus on it and really take the action or job to heart. However, this makes detaching all the harder sometimes; when you have invested so much time and dedication to your work it is hard to just let it go.
    I was recently in an academic environment where there was very little time to complete any of the assignments given to my class. This was not intentionally cruel or negligent, it was just the expectation because there was truly so much to get done. This was very difficult for everyone present as many of us grew up with the implicit if not explicit message that we should take pride in our work. Thus sleepless nights and long days became the standard. We each had an abundance of commitment to action so detachment became incredibly difficult.
    This break-neck lifestyle was not doing particularly great things for anyone’s mental state and I saw this. In our interactions with the other members of our class and those around us. I commented on this to a friend and she wisely indicated that if I saw this and knew the root of it, why not change? I reflected on this and understood how true her words were, though I could not see it before she pointed it out. I had become so ensnared in my studies and my practice that I did not even realize I could detach.
    I started acting on this in the last few days of my program and my stress levels decreased significantly. There was still work to be done and I would still do it to the best of my abilities but I came back to a place where I knew that, at a certain point, there was nothing more I could do. Que sera sera.
    I am now trying to make vairagyam my abhyasa. Unlike most of the things I work for, working harder towards it and throwing my all at it is sort of the opposite of what needs to be done. It is difficult but definitely something worth relaxing towards.

  14. Pingback: Sutra I.32 – Chapter I, Sutra 32 | weeklysutra

  15. Pingback: Sutra I.33 – Chapter I, Sutra 33 | weeklysutra

  16. An action I currently practice that I’d like to let go of is eating a lot of sweets. I’ve been focused on eating healthier these last couple years, but I certainly have a persistent sweet tooth. I’ve tried not purchasing any candy/ desserts but then find myself craving them, going out to buy them, and then gorging on them. Now that I keep them at home again I find myself mostly staying away from them at the beginning of the day, but then craving them so strongly that when I go to eat them later in the day I end up eating too much. I’d like to work on letting go of the “grasp” I have on sweets, but still be able to “hold” them.

  17. Over the last several months, I’ve been practicing Kriya yoga by altering my diet significantly. For years, I’ve struggled with allergies and immune system problems, and I realized that I needed to make a change. I completely eliminated certain types of foods, and I wasn’t sure what the results would be, but I stuck with it. I sat back and observed the changes to my body and mind and was shocked at how much different foods impacted me. It has not been easy to detach myself from my former comfort foods, but I feel better when I don’t eat them (which is hard, because I love cheese and sugar). It takes a good deal of effort and planning to maintain this lifestyle change, but because I took action, observed, then reflected on the results, I’ve improved my well-being significantly. I’ve even noticed that I don’t crave them as much (perhaps because I have a memory of the stomach pain I have when I eat them) 🙂

  18. This sutra definitely reminds me in many ways of book The Four Agreements. There is a part in the book that also depicts the idea replacement therapy that you mentioned your teacher describes it. I don’t remember exactly how it went but I vaguely feel like it had something to do with weeds (I could totally be making this up though, but I’m rolling with it :))…that we as humans are “gardens” and we must be aware of the growth of weeds (destructive thoughts/behaviors/patterns/etc) within ourselves. As soon as we discover the weeds that are growing, we must take action to remove it but also be aware that the hole that remains must be filled in with a beautiful flower (positive patterns/beliefs/behaviors) because if left empty…the chance the same old weed growing again becomes greater.

  19. When I went through a very hard breakup over a year ago, I became determined to move on. A week after I was single for the first time in two years, I tried to tell myself I was fine. I was going out with friends and having a lot of fun, but I was really just masking my intense sadness. Instead of accepting the state I was in, I tried to cover it up even from myself. I didn’t let myself feel anything, I just tried to fill up my time completely so that I was not alone and was not immersed in my fear and sadness. Eventually it all hit me at once and I was miserable. I think this idea of practice and detachment would have benefited me a lot. I thought I was being strong by detaching myself and convincing myself I was ok, but really I was just prolonging the inevitable. I needed to give myself time to practice being alone, being sad, and healing with time instead of trying to rush the process.

  20. One action that I currently practice which I would like to replace is my “addiction” to technology. I use a computer for work a lot and when I get home after yoga or dinner plans I typically go back on my computer to check my blog, read news, or watch netflix. In my opinion I spend way to much time on the internet and starring at a screen. I feel like this makes me feel sort of isolated and lethargic after a while. Although I can’t really get around it using a computer while I’m at work I can still practice vairagyam by ‘unplugging’ when I can and replace the time with other healthier things I like to do. One example of my abhyasa of detaching from technology that I did this week was when I got home the other night instead of catching up with House of Cards on netflix I left my computer closed and got in bed with a new book. I always think “I want to read or journal more” but then I think “but I’m so busy and it’s hard to find time”. Really I’m just lying to my self I could take time out of mindlessly browsing the internet/netflix and put it to good use. I want to continue my abhyasa of vairagyam by getting off technology and spending more time doing things relaxing things.

  21. I would like to work on practicing self-reflection and honesty. For example, I often volunteer for things without looking at my schedule, or I ask other people’s opinions on an idea before I’ve thought about it myself. I want to take more time to be honest with myself about how I feel and why I do certain things (like make myself busy), so that I can be more self-aware and more honest with others. In this, I need to detach from my habit of mindlessly jumping in to things. At the moment, I feel I’m too kind to others. I believe practicing more self-awareness and honesty will help me be more kind to myself.

  22. Practice and de-attach…if only it were that easy 😛
    There are so many things we attach to, our social status, our race, our gender, our height, our weight, our name, our so called “identity” and those are just so ingrained they seem improbable, if not straight up impossible to de-attach from. But, there are also little things we attach to, our favorite foods, the routine, the expectations, the wants and desires of one day suddenly become attachments and we assign them as wants and desires of the next day and the day after that and suddenly we realize we never truly liked tofu scramble enough to eat it every morning. This sutra reminds me of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The book is more than just what i’m going to write but for this purpose I will concentrate one of its main motifs: the impermanence and transient nature of things. We long for those exact same butterflies and fireworks and clammy hands and quickened heart beat and slightly dilated pupils, all those physical reactions to our internal action of kissing our lover for the first time. But what happens when the second kiss lacks the same grandiose rush of hormones that get our brain drunk on love and dopamine? The third, fourth, 100th kiss somehow “lacks” and we immediately make a judgment that love has somehow faded and that maybe it was always doomed. When we are attached to expectations and experiences then all experiences will eventually be doomed, because no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, once that first experience has ended, the second and third couldn’t possibly replicate the exact same experience.The transient nature of life allows us to experience everything once and this will never be the same as before or after, it is unique and fulfilling but when we don’t practice detachment we try to replicate experiences and this will inevitably end in suffering.

  23. What you learned in India with the object – either you can grab or hold it – reminds me of the familiar quote “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.” I learned the concept of vairaga with an ex boyfriend (who shall remain unnamed). I wanted to control him and fix him of his drinking and partying habits. I tried until the near point of exhaustion. I came to the point where I couldn’t give anymore. I couldn’t fix him, as much as I wanted to. I realized that he had to learn for himself. So I let him go. At that moment, I realized that we do not possess anything in this world, least of all other people. We only imagine that we do. Our friends, our lovers, our spouses and even our children are not ours, they belong to themselves. Possessive and controlling friendships and relationships lead to suffering, just as much as neglect does.

  24. Reminding myself that happiness may take a different shape than what I thought it would (and therefore acted toward it) helps me (when I remember) being ok with the idea (or the reality) of my plans not going the way I want.

  25. The example of holding sand into the palm of your hand brings me back to the end of my first significant relationship. I remember that even though I sensed the relationship was ending, I was squeezing onto it so tightly, like squeezing sand into the palm of your hand, eventually there was nothing left. Looking back, the relationship was no longer healthy, but I had identified with being in that relationship for so long I was completely attached to the idea that this was the person I was supposed to be with. Unfortunately, it took me years to detach from that relationship. But fortunately when I did detach, I realized I had learned so much about myself.

    I know I don’t like ambiguity, I really don’t like not having control, it is a huge source of anxiety for me, but I am slowly trying to learn how to detach. I know that there is so much in this world that is outside of my control, some of the most beautiful memories I have are from haphazard life occurrences. I just need to remind myself sometimes how important it is to let go.

  26. One of the biggest things that I am working on is intentional practice. I get to make the choice of my attitude and my actions, and I try to really “own” those choices. At the same time, there is no room in my life for holding on to my impressions of others of their attitudes or opinions – I really have to actively work on detaching myself from giving space to those things. But as I detach, I leave more room for my own self to grow and bloom – which fosters a sense of surety and peace.

  27. I recently met a woman at a yoga festival. Someone asked her how her baby was doing because she was pregnant the last time the person saw her. The woman had actually lost the baby, as he was stillborn. Instead of becoming angry or upset at the question, the woman explained what happened very matter-of-factly. She said her little son was a fighter but didn’t make it in the end. She said that she and her husband donated his organs to save several other children’s lives. She said “these things happen” with kind of a shrug of her shoulders. It was unbelieveably inspiring to me. This woman had all the reason in the world to run somewhere and hide and be resentful about such a terrible thing happening, but she had an amazing attitude about the situation and was out there working this yoga festival. She said she and her husband would try again for another child. She turned the negative into a positive and I thought, wow, if she can live through something like that, then surely I have no excuse for letting my problems get me down.

  28. “Just flow.” -my best friend’s aunt’s mantra that became my college anthem. (imagine this said in a New Jersey-meets-the Florida panhandle kind of way)

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have that seared into my brain over the past several years. When it comes to work, theatre is an ever-changing art form where if you can’t flow, get out of the river. You start the trajectory of your show in one direction, and hope in lands in the same realm you thought of… While staying responsible for the overall product, one must adapt with the creative processes of all the participants. This means compromise, sometimes giving up an element of the set you really loved or really wanting to see a character where a certain color. THIS CAN BE DIFFICULT, but when you are working with a team of inspired artist whom you respect, it makes the detaching easier. At the end of the day, a beautiful story is still being created.

    I love how Steph looked at different types of attachment. Sure, I can accept that my car has a flat tire, so this week I’m taking the train to work. I can adapt to the weather without being bitter (cold… haha!) about it. The real kicker comes when she mentions the attachment to your identity: I like my hair cut a certain way, my clothes styled a certain way, I am a certain weight, a certain gender, etc. While this beautiful individual qualities carve out each human, it can be difficult to accept any changes in that. Costume-making, I often witness people’s disgust and negative comments when it comes to a change in their weight. The frustration is a real thing!! Rather than wasting energy on disliking it, plug in some detachment! I believe that all people are capable of loving their physical forms (and trust me, I know it’s difficult!). You may be 10lbs heavier than you would like this month, but I will make this gorgeous costume to fit your body today! Fit does not mean skinny or trim. Fit means contoured to fit a current form. Forms can change, and in terms of yoga and costume-making, I am here to help people enjoy their current forms.

  29. I find I can drift back and forth between being able to let go and not let go. Searching out reasons to why has helped me understand that I hold on to others or my own expectations of how my life is suppose to go rather enjoying being a witness to how it unfolds. I’ve seen glimpses of how mastering the activities of the mind leads to more joy.

  30. I have a very strong attachment to my identity as a singer and musician. I had a hard time when I started teaching because I didn’t know what to tell people when they asked me what I did for a living. There was always a stigma around becoming an educator. I remember hearing that people majored in music education because they weren’t good enough to become a performance major. There was a time that I agreed with that statement. Then, all of the sudden I decided to become an education major instead of a performance major. I felt that I had lost my identity. I was almost embarrassed to tell people my major.

    I now have come to terms with my identity and feel comfortable telling people what I do for living. I feel as if I have the best of both worlds. I realized that I didn’t have to let go of my identity as a singer, and that I could be both a teacher and singer and enjoy both professions very much. I think I needed to let go of the feeling that people would think less of me for being a teacher, and be proud of the influence I have on people’s lives whether that is in the classroom or on the stage.

  31. I used to work at a hospital for four years and was very unhappy. I had opportunities to leave, but I was paid very well and needed the money. Needing the money and staying in the enviorment clouded my aspirations. I came in one day ten minutes late and was fired on the spot. Of course I was very upset, but I let go of what I couldn’t change and started to aim more toward what I wanted.

    Now I’m almost done with my Yoga teacher training 😉

  32. Vairagyam is easier said than done. Along with practicing the positive activities of the minds, i think it’s also good to practice vairagyam, letting go of the past and unnecessary baggage. Everybody makes mistakes and endures failure at one point or another. Yeah, big deal?! It’s okay to fumble once in a while, but it’s a matter of lessons learned and being able to let go and move on. If i practice letting go of my failure, and could draw a lesson or two from it, i think i could move on fairly quickly and focus on the next step. Live is a long journey, let’s just embrace ourselves, picking us up from falling and moving forward. The past surely made us who we are today; i respect that but there’s no point of looking back, there are so many exciting things waiting ahead for me to discover. If i fall again, so be it, i’ll learn, let go and move on.

  33. I am a control freak and a bit of a perfectionist who is a people pleaser. I have a very difficult time letting go. I tend to take the attitude if you want something done correctly then you need to do it yourself. This made my life stressful and my families. I am working on letting go and being ok with things, people and situations not being perfect. It definitely helps me breathe letting go.

  34. When I was a little girl, I used to be fascinated by makeup. I would always watch my mother carefully put it on in front of the mirror, gently combing each set of eyelashes with thick, black mascara. I didn’t quite understand the effect that makeup had on a woman’s appearance- I just loved watching her morning ritual. It seemed so fancy- so glamorous- like the Victoria’s Secret lotion she had that she would lather on for special occasions.

    I technically wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until sophomore year of high school- and even then, my mother would only allow mascara and lip gloss. However, I was so intrigued by it that I would frequently wear it to school against my mother’s wishes. I’d put it on at school or at a friend’s house. And the amount that I put on was excessive (to say the least). Gobs of mascara, a face full of foundation, caked on eye shadow, light reflective shiny lip gloss- it was bad. But at that age, I didn’t really understand that it wasn’t only a fascination with makeup itself– my “look” grew to an problem in which I didn’t understand my natural beauty. By the end of high school, I couldn’t go anywhere in public without taking at least an hour to apply it. I didn’t realize the insecurities I would eventually come to terms with after becoming more self- aware as I got older.

    It took me a VERY long time to get over the need to wear so much makeup. I had a very difficult time realizing my true, natural beauty, and how much more beautiful it is than any made-up face could ever be. After realizing this part of me through self study (svadhyaya), I took action (tapas) and stopped wearing so much. In fact, I resorted to the lip balm- mascara thing my mother suggested in high school! Funny how life works that way. Lastly, after practicing ishvarapranidana (letting go of the results), I became confident in myself in a way I never knew I had. Letting go of any physical perceptions I had of myself and what others thought of my looks was the best thing I could do for myself at that time. This is who I am! I may not be beautiful to some without makeup, but I’m beautiful to myself- and realizing that has brought me inner peace- and I can focus on the bigger picture- and things that actually matter and deserve to take up space in my brain.

  35. The biggest thing i am holding onto now and need to detach from is the constant worry of what the news from my husband’s work will be and where that will mean we will be living. Hopefully we should know something in the next month or so, but we will not be moving likely until after the school year is out. I need to release the worry and replace it with the constructive actions of making this space we are in as comfortable and functional as possible for when the baby comes. One thing i do not hold onto that many i know do are grudges and negativity. That bad energy can literally feel like a weight on you. I would rather focus on the positive.

  36. This concept just very recently was revealed to me by a dear friend that gently reminded me that balance and “letting go” is crucial for success. I am a doer….if I want something, I go for it. But trying to hard for something that is not at it’s time leads to disappointment and negativity. So as cliche’ as it sounds…maybe the Frozen song is right! Every time my kids belt out the tunes to that song I see their childlike carefree spirit and I am reminded that all things will fall into place when the time is right. Action meets Ease. Love this sutra 🙂

  37. One of the hardest things for me to let go of was the concept of being a young woman and mother. It is hard to realize that your children love you but no longer truly “need” you. It has been easier for me because I know that my sons are so happy with the women they have chosen, and the concept of holding but not grasping has been helpful. I know that letting go has given them the ability to embrace their own lives to the fullest, and that is the gift.

  38. “Letting Go” is easier said than done. We learn, practice and be come masters of our life. The older I get, the more I realize that I really only have “control” over my own life. I influence and guide others, but in reality I don’t have “control”. My life is much more settled when I remember this, and practice just letting life happen. I understand this in my mind, but sometimes my heart still doesnt like it. Still more work to be done.

  39. Detachment, for me, is most important so that I can further my quality of work. When I first started managing a bar I wanted to be everyone’s friend. I wanted to make service life easy and smooth, but I found that I had to be direct and detached when it came to showing rules and what was expected of people. In the same way, I had to be open and willing to listen when I dropped the ball on something. Being detached and taking criticism in a constructive way allowed growth all across the board. In the same way, teacher training can be stressful. I want to put my best teaching skills forward, and, for some, it is when we are completely exposed that way when critique is the most hurtful. Lucky for me I am working with a stellar group of people who, by being honest and detached with each other, have pushed me and made me better.

  40. I, probably like many people, have a hard time letting go. I come from a family of worriers so I can’t let go physically, mentally and spiritually. So I just celebrated my 29th birthday and I keep hearing everywhere about Saturn returning. It’s funny because I first heard about it from someone in Yoga Teacher Training, and now I see stuff about it everywhere. So Saturn Returning can mean a lot of different things, but I find myself desperately holding onto everything in my life for fear the Saturn is going to take everything (good and bad) away. Things that I love, things that I hate, things I want to stay the same and things I want to radically change. It doesn’t matter what it is, I’m clinging to what I can, because I am so scared about what the future may hold. I’m so scared about the possibilities, that I’d rather hold onto the bad stuff than open myself up to any good things. I’d love to just sit back, detach and allow myself to just ride the wave.

  41. I love the metaphor of holding something in your hand without clasping it. This helps take the pressure off the action of “letting go” because we can trust that whatever it is we were holding will leave us when ready. We simply must accept that people/objects/experience are not always meant to be held onto. This kind of detachment is very hard to master. Personally, I feel confident in my ability to commit to action. If there is something I want to achieve, I typically will commit to a practice to achieve it. However, it is harder for me to refrain from judging the result. I can tell I am growing in this area because I used to get very frustrated in my yoga practice. I would get down on myself if I couldn’t do a certain pose. Now, I have been finding peace and respecting wherever I am on and off the yoga mat. Healthy detachment, yet still committed.

  42. “The actions are ideally those which help us cultivate a more focused and joyful state.” This statement is so true for me. I find that when I am acting on something, when I am focusing on that action, and making a conscious effort to improve whatever that practice is, I am much happier. This definitely relates to my yoga practice as well. It made me think of when I first started Teacher Training and I felt like I couldn’t do so many basic asanas. Now, I feel so much stronger, more flexible, and more stable that just 6 short months ago. Every time I’m practicing, I feel a sense of joy and release that add peace to my life. I’m very grateful that yoga has given me this clarity.

  43. What a beautiful lesson I learned from Lucia about holding space for something without holding on. I think about how empowering it would be to take action without attachment to the results. If there were no fear of failure, what would I try?

  44. Holding and not grabbing. I use that phrase often now, it makes so much sense and allows for life to happen yet gives us the control in that we accept it. Holding is a more aware way of viewing life. If I think of holding something in my hand, I am aware of its weight, its shape, my strength or grip around it. If I am grabbing something I am more aware of my fear of losing it. It also involves a sense of anxiety and tension, as opposed to a more peaceful feelings of holding something. I guess it’s the concept of being where we are on this ride of life, always embracing the journey with the understanding of how little we control the ride, other than how we take care of our bodies and minds and how we treat others. The rest is luck and the universe.

    • 🙂 This is one of the most significant sutras. It is simple and practical. Every time we notice we are tense, angry or anxious, we realize that we are grabbing. And perhaps in that moment, we can release the clenched fists and simply hold, allowing the knuckles to come back to their natural color…

  45. Pingback: Sutra II.25 – Chapter II, Sutra 25 | weeklysutra

  46. The imagery of holding an object rather than grabbing it resonates strongly within me, as it seems to do the same for many other people commenting on this sutra. By holding something, you are taking action, but you are not putting yourself in a spot that will lead to suffering. Rather, you are allowing the object to leave when necessary but also appreciating the moments that you have with it. So often people will say “just let it go”, assuming that everything will be fine after you let go. The issue, however, is that you must act within this world as well as developing the ability to let go of things. If you let go of everything, you will ultimately have nothing to hold. I encourage others to appreciate the moments that we have and to learn from them, but do not become so attached that you are unable to move on from a certain moment in time. Life is continuous movement and we must develop the skills necessary in order to move onward and upward in our journey.

  47. I come from a family of “non-detachers”. My husband, Chris, comes from a family of “let-everything-outers”. i was raised that if something bothered you, keep it to yourself. I was also raised in a home that was neat and tidy, but behind the knee wall we stored everything that was no longer of use in our home. I have a long and on-going struggle with both of these things. Not so much the material possessions, but letting go of the feelings and telling someone that they have hurt you! As far as letting go and the vision of holding the object rather than grabbing it has been taught to me by my mom. She is so special. She taught us so much as kids and loved us so hard! But i do know now looking back that she did this very well! She loved us and getting to be home with us more than anything. The day i came home and said I wanted to attend U of I, Champaign- Urbana and that I would work 2 jobs if I had to, to be able to live that dream, she said, if you were willing to work that hard and wanted it that bad, I knew we would make it work! And we did… I came home from U of I at Christmas of my senior year I told my mom I was going to marry Chris and move to the Chicago area, she said, Well, OK… somewhere else to visit. I KNOW she had a hard time saying those things and letting us sit in the palm of her hand, but she did it, we did it and now I live back close to her and talk to her everyday! Thank you Mom for letting me fly! I need to work on letting go mentally. I let things eat at me until it isn’t healthy. I want to be better at that!…Happy Earth Day!

  48. A wise elderly friend once shared with me this biblical verse: “consider the lilies how they grow they toil not they spin not.” I began spending precious time with this kind and gentle man when my life was on complete overload, I was grabbing on for life, not realizing my efforts were exhausting and unsustainable. I had convinced myself that I needed to be a super mom, the perfect loving wife and the champion volunteer. We spent hours talking, his patience, wisdom and encouragement guided me to understand the significance of slowing down my lifestyle…..or to find the ability to let go, to hold not grab. As I read this Sutra, I was reminded of my elderly friend and our precious time together. I have the verse he shared with me engraved on a piece of pottery, it hangs on my wall. It is a reminder of our time together but also of growth that is yet to come I can’t help but feel he is looking down from above, smiling….. for he knows my soul is truly ready to take his teachings, along side the teachings of Yoga and move from years of refection to making the commitment of practicing!!!

  49. Letting go at my day job by delegating has been very freeing! Being an A-type personality it was very difficult but so wonderful now to be able to breath (although, it took a very long time in my career to be able to delegate). In my personal life, I can let go of the past or people that have harmed me and do not hold grudges BUT I have a very hard time letting go of the actions of my children, the way they dress, comb their hair, etc. Since starting this class every so often I do consciously think to myself that I need give them the space they need to be free and not hold onto them so tightly. I am always hearing “mom, you are too protective.”

  50. In order for me to become, evolve and transform, breaking the pattern or shell of who I think I am, I must let go of my form. I have to remove the securities of my boundaries or I will remain frustrated trying to grow within a prison of sorts. My form cant change if I am always a square. I must get my pencil out and erase those corners so I can flow, and evolve in an organic pattern. I am not the person I was a year ago, last week…heck…even a minute ago. Detaching from who I was or who I think I should be is essential in order to surrender. I can only become by letting go. Surrender. Breath unsharpens the corners of my body, meditation shaves down the corners of my mind, prayer erases all of my boundaries allowing me to surrender to faith.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s