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How Do I Teach Non-Attachment? Fall and Aparigraha

The yoga ideal of non-attachment… Can you even fathom how you would approach this concept in a kids’ yoga class?

Non-attachment is called aparigraha in The Yoga Sutras (say that 3 times fast). It’s the fifth Yama, aka code of self-restraint. This code includes being peaceful, truthful, chaste, and not stealing.

Non-attachment. We can equate this also to not being greedy, not acquiring things for the sake of acquiring, not being possessive and not coveting.

Before we begin to construct a class outline with asanas (poses), activities, music, savasana and lecture, let’s flesh this out a bit in terms of how it is relatable to kids. We live in a world (or at least I do with my own children) where anything can happen and be possessed and gained within minutes. Do the words ‘streaming’ and ‘Prime’ create any visual in your mind? When things go awry, as they often do, how do you react? How do your children react? This is the mindset we need to understand when attempting a non-attachment themed class.

We need to build a class with the idea of conveying a complex and heady ideal that is also relatable in kid terms: letting go, water off a duck’s back, leaves falling, cutting ties, gratitude, breath, mood metering. Perhaps, a non-attachment themed class is THE perfect Fall class.

A tree does not weep the loss of the leaves it spent all summer growing.  The fall season, in fact, is full of examples of graceful change, and the idea of losing in order to feed the next season.  Migration!  Animals leaving their homes and what they know in order to seek growth, birth, warmth and continuing existence.  Birds and butterflies come to mind.  Let us use these natural examples as a basis for teaching non-attachment.

I Imagine beginning with breath work that mimics wind blowing leaves off of trees.  What a fun way to teach deep breath work!  I Imagine a discussion about how trees so readily let go of their beautiful leaves after a season of growth, and how this might relate to our need to let go of certain things as we grow into our next best selves.  I imagine asanas that stretches our bodies from seated to standing that relate to the fall season: a cat climbing a tree as leaves are falling to the ground, a crow flying to the top of a mountain, butterflies preparing for migration.  I imagine games to support the fall season / non-attachment theme.  Instead of throwing pom poms for Toe-ga, why not use faux leaves from a craft store.  The kids can work together to “rake” the “grass” of the fallen leaves.  I imagine a partner game where the children are taught to let go of fear by relying on their partner’s strength in order to perform their stretch.  Do you know of any child-appropriate music that can support this concept?  Can you use a tune already known and change the words (like Wheels on the Bus)?  “The leaves on the trees fall down and down, down and down, down and down.” “The birds that nested must fly away, fly away, fly away.”  Keep on going with grasshoppers hopping, and squirrels collecting nuts, plants falling away, and leaves changing color.  Encourage the kids to join in the creation.

I imagine a guided savasana that is entered into with a discussion and reflection of the past season: what did we learn?  What was good?  What was bad?  What should we let go of? What do we need to improve upon? What is worthy of being kept and held onto and built upon?

For a craft, I imagine a tree trunk painted on canvas, and the kids adding their hand prints as leaves in autumnal colors.  After drying, they can write their ‘let gos’ on the fallen leaves and their “worth keepings” on the branches, limbs and trunk.

In all of this, I suggest the threading of gentle discussion on how we should embrace simplicity and minimalism in our living and behaving.  We move through the seasons, as does nature, learning and growing, letting go and retaining, becoming wiser, directed and becoming self-assured.  This is because we are mindful of what we need, what feeds us, what is excess and what doesn’t feed us.  Non-attachment occurs through the vessel of mindfulness.  It’s the only way.


1 Comment

  1. Elissa Dinsmore

    I love this!! So perfect for now. KAY knows:). Namaste.

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