Raja (Attachment)


Sutra 2.7 introduces Raja, or Attachment. This Sutra can be translated as 'Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences.' There are a couple words we recognize...pleasure and experience. Yes, please! The problem appears when we become attached to those pleasurable experiences. Anyone ever got sucked into a pleasurable experience? (looking side-side, before raising hand). Sukha is a term we are familiar with, which is also translated as good; however, even attachment to pleasure can cause pain. Building upon the first 2 Kleshas, Avidya (we forget), Asmita (we see ourselves as individuals), we now attach, which will lead to Dvesha (aversion - coming in Part 4).


We become attached to the things that we believe bring us happiness and joy. We think FILL IN THE BLANK makes us happy and we want more and more of it! Everyone wants to be happy, yet happiness seems so difficult to find.

How to overcome this obstacle on your mat?

Have you ever been in yoga class or on your mat at home longing for the same poses over and over again? I do! Do you prefer to only practice the poses that come easy and feel the best? Maybe you wish the teacher would have held a pose for longer because it comes easy to you? Often times, we become so attached to the same poses that we become irritated when we have to do something different in in our practice. It becomes physically and emotionally difficult to let go. I see students struggling in balance poses all the time and instead of letting go of the attachment and just finding happiness in being where they are in that moment, they try to do too much too fast. This desire to achieve on our mat is not an inherently bad quality - but think about what you are attached to when these feelings arise. When you feel the need to leave your mat, your breath, or your practice. Is it worth it - will you really find happiness somewhere else?

How to overcome this obstacle off your mat?

Happiness already lives inside us. It's not something we need to cultivate, but to realize it we must acknowledge the possibility. That which you seek, already lives inside you. What happens when we rely on our attachments to continue to make us happy? One word comes to mind, disappointment. Consider a new relationship or job, when things are going great and you feel like you're on top of the world. It's easy to expect this situation to remain unchanged and attribute/attach our happiness to this 'thing' happening in our life. However, when things fall apart we become confused at our unhappiness. Raja is the cause. Can you practice not being attached to the things that make you happy? Appreciate things that bring you joy, but avoid attaching your happiness to them. 

If you want an even better analogy read about the musk deer in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali book, on page 90 - 91.

By: Virginia Traylor