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Yoga, Yoga Practice, Nonattachment, Yoga Sūtra, Patañjali


This paper explores the relationship between practice and nonattachment in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra (YS). I examine these concepts in their original context and then view them through a modern lens, arguing that the application of nonattachment alongside yogic practices holds the key to fruitful spiritual exploration. My research shows that nonattachment is more than a secondary consideration to the main element of practice; instead, the intentionally paradoxical pairing offers nuance and grounding for a holistic Yoga practice. I begin by establishing the goal of the YS, explore the context of practice and nonattachment within it, consider how the state of liberation demonstrates the interplay between the two, and examine the root of suffering and its relationship to attachment. I then survey practice and nonattachment within the Indian philosophical tradition, in the Vedas, Kaṭha Upaniṣad, Sāṃkhya Karika, and Bhagavd Gītā. With this comparison established, I discuss practices from the YS, showing that the diverse techniques Patañjali advocates involve a subtilization, revealing their connection nonattachment through increasingly introspective practices. Through firsthand evidence I consider how release both informs practice and why it is often a necessary compliment, offering a detailed consideration of specific practices and their relationship to nonattachment. My investigation shows that this relationship, present in various iterations among other texts, confirms the importance of not just doing practices, nor just “letting go,” but the potency of combining the two. Patañjali’s inclusion of practice and nonattachment together demonstrates the importance of specific yogic techniques and continual release from attachment to results.