What Is Kaivalya?

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Kaivalya Definition

Kaivalya = independence, freedom, emancipation, solitude, isolation, aloneness, separateness.

Kaivalya Deep Dive

Iyengar in his book “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” calls kaivalya the “absolute state of aloneness or eternal emancipation.”

Kaivalya which is derived from the word ‘Kevala’ (which means alone), is the state of total awareness detached from desire, attachment, and aversion, as well as samsara.

A synonym for moksha or nirvana, kaivalya is attained when karma is no longer present.  

Often referred to as “the isolation of detachment”, Kaivalya is the ultimate goal of Raja Yoga which can also be interpreted as enlightenment.

Kaivalya is the state of total awareness where one is undisturbed by the external and sees the material world Prakriti for what it is.  You can think of it a little bit like The Matrix…

Through austerities and the practice of yoga, a separation of Purusha (Self or Soul) from Prakriti (primal matter) can take place. If you want to find out more about Kaivalya, the entire fourth Pada of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is devoted “devoted to the quest of the soul”.

a body achieving kaivalya, transcending the physical body

Kaivalya in your life

A yogi who achieves Kaivalya is called a Kevalin and is someone who has come to realize that happiness and fulfillment are not connected to the external, material world. 

In order to attain Kaivalya, one must overcome worldly desires. This can be done through yoga practices and austerities.


A practice of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, as found in his Yoga Sutra, is recommended to reach liberation.

This goes beyond the asana practice that many of us partake in and requires us to look at the way we live our lives. For example, the way we treat ourselves and others which can be found in the yamas and niyamas and withdrawal of the senses can be found with the practice of pratyahara.

A great commitment is required in order to reach kaivalya and it begins with simple actions, self-study and taking care of our bodies.

graphic of a spiritual head transcending reality


Samyama forms the last elements of the Eight Limb system as described by Patanjali. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are the precursors to Kaivalya and provide a platform for moving the practice of yoga inwards.

This threefold practice helps us to discriminate between what is real and what is not and leads the practitioner closer to Kaivalya. 

Kaivalya and Death

Kaivalya is the stage of ultimate awareness that comes after samadhi.  A state where the yogi is immersed in samadhi in the day-to-day.

But, while some say that kaivalya can be achieved while living, its correlation to “aloneness” is often linked to how it is achieved at the moment or just after death.

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Sarah is a Brighton-based yoga teacher and teacher trainer with a passion for teaching self-inquiry and rest.

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