The ultimate goal of yoga is kaivalya, total liberation and freedom
We use the methods and practices of yoga to deliberately and gradually release into our true Self, which allows us to feel free from the shackles of emotion and the layers of human life that bind us to our earthly experience. This involution requires us to still the fluctuations in the mind, to discern between emotion and Truth, to listen to our intuition and inner wisdom.
Layer after layer, detail after detail, we reduce our habit of relating to the identity of the ego and rid ourselves of the myriad of things that keep us from seeing the ultimate Truth. To do this, we must learn to let go -- trustful surrender. It has been said that until you can 'burn your own house down, you will never truly be free'. In other words, as long as we feel our survival depends on factors of the external world, we deny our connection to the Infinite and thus, deny ourselves liberation.
Like Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita, we need to cultivate Inaction In Action: to find a passionate and meaningful way of moving through our experience on earth with dispassion, detached from the outcome of our choices. We must consistently invite and create peace -- moment to moment: in order to be free, we must practice Vairagya.
Vairagya (non-attachment) literally means 'colourless.' Every desire brings its own colour to the mind. The moment you colour the mind, a ripple is formed, just as when a stone is thrown into a calm lake it creates waves in the water: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:15.
Ripples of thought and emotion are distractions to the peaceful, calm waters of our mind and spirit beneath them. In yoga, we learn we are not our thoughts or emotions, we are not our desires or our bodies. We want to remember what we really are so that all the ways we colour our mind begin to dissipate. Vairagya teaches us how to practice letting the colours go.
Vairagya goes hand in hand with Abhyasa, discipline. Becoming more at peace, surrendering, letting go -- it actually takes work. We must have the discipline to monitor our thoughts, actions, and choices.
Abhyasa is defined as consistent practice and is more than getting up at the same time every day and practicing asana and meditation; that could be part of it, but it is also the discipline of moment to moment. It takes discipline to remember our raw beauty, to remain vulnerable and untouched by our hurts, to repeatedly see the transient everness of the Universe. Time and again, we have to choose to tap into the sameness, the Divine essence of everything.
The effort, the practice, is in the choosing. Peace.
Note: We often hear these words used in yoga classes where neither the time or space is afforded to explore the philosophy and application of these two words, nor the acknowledgement given to the source of the scriptures themselves -- yet this is where our yoga sadhana originates. The hyperlinks provided above will lead you to some articles in the Himalayan Institute's Wisdom Library on Vairagya and Abhyasa, and to the source texts, whose beautiful translation by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait are awaiting your eyes and heart.