Urdva Yoga

6 OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS: A YOGIC VIEW

Have you tried to be regular with your asana practice and find yourself often falling off the track? Or for that matter, any personal discipline you are trying to follow, a new habit you’re trying to develop but find yourself failing often?

Every time we try to change a habit or adopt a new habit we find many obstacles come forward. In fact, the more you will try to adopt a new habit or give up something, the more attractive opportunities you will face that will make you go astray.

The classical text Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama written over 2000 years ago lists six obstacles that are faced in the practice of Yoga and you will notice how these are true today and in many aspects of our life.

Atyāhārah prayāśacha prajalpo niyamgrah
jansaṅgaścha laulyaṁ cha shadbhiryogo vinashyati

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1.15

Yogi Swatmarama says overeating, exertion, talkativeness, adhering to rules, being in the company of common people, and unsteadiness (wavering mind) are the six causes that destroy Yoga.

Any task we undertake needs knowledge, clarity, courage, and self-discipline. The source of it all is our mind and its manifestation in our habits and conduct.

Here we examine the six obstacles to success in Yoga:

OBSTACLE #1: OVEREATING (Atyāhārah)

When the body is overloaded with food, it becomes sluggish and the mind becomes dull. Over a period of time, toxins build up in the body, constipation sets in and the whole physical and mental system functioning is in disorder.

OBSTACLE #2: OVER-EXERTION (Prayāśacha)

Overexerting or overstraining the body and mind taxes our energy systems and can create a further imbalance between the two energies of Ida and Pingala the solar and lunar principles that maintain homeostasis and mental equilibrium.

OBSTACLE #3: EXCESSIVE TALKING (Prajalpa)

Speech is the greatest form of depletion of energy. Excessive talking dissipates wastes vital energy and wastes time. The one who talks too much often makes less sense. The practice of mouna (silence) is to speak in a measured way, to speak what is necessary saves energy and makes one more effective in day-to-day life. Unnecessary talk dispels mental peace and clarity.

OBSTACLE #4: ADHERING TO RULES (Niyamgrah)

Finding a balance of discipline as well as avoiding rigidity is key to succeeding. Following too many rules either social or religious rituals makes one narrow-minded. Being flexible and adjusting according to circumstances will help you be free and open-minded.

OBSTACLE #5: COMPANY OF COMMON PEOPLE (Jansaṅga)

While this sutra is said in the context of a yogi, for many of us living in the world this can be interpreted as keeping away from the company of people who do not support our goals and values. For success on a path, having the right company can work as a propeller.

OBSTACLE #6: UNSTEADINES OF THE MIND (Laulyaṁ)

Unsteadiness can manifest as a series of interruptions and pauses in one’s daily practice. Our willpower is weakened every time we know the right course of action but fail to follow it because of laziness or temptation.

Yoga is the training of the mind which is the source of our choices, thoughts, and actions. May we be inspired to seek Yoga.
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