Obstacles on the Path of Yoga

Patanjali describes 13 obstacles of yoga by breaking them down into two sets. The first set of Antarayas are the primary and most common obstacles one will encounter in yoga. The second set contains four minor obstacles, several of which are very uncommon.

9 main obstacles of the mind:

1. Vyadhi – Illness, disease, physical or mental. It is difficult to do yoga if one is physically sick. Thus it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of illness and promotion of optimal health.

2. Styana – Mental laziness, apathy. By procrastinating, we avoid our practice and create excuses for not being on the path and doing the work.

3. Samshaya – Doubting one’s capability or the result of yoga. It is important to cultivate faith in oneself as well as the yogic path.

4. Pramada – Procrastination, carelessness, a lack of persistence. Yoga is both a science and art, and approaching it without skill, care, respect, and devotion will create erratic and possible negative results.

5. Alasya – Sloth, inertia of mind or body due to dominance of the tamasic element. Yoga requires discipline, zeal, and tapas (will-power) to succeed on its path. Laziness will prevent one from attaining the highest potential.

6. Avirati – Sensual Craving, overindulgence, attachment to pleasurable things. We must learn to “let go” of our attachments to desire and physical objects if we are to make progress in yoga.

7. Bhrantidarshana – Illusions/False Perception, a premature sense of certainty. The development of a false notion about the practice of yoga and its outcome can, not only, lead one off the path of yoga, but also create harm and disappointment.

8. Aalabdhabhumikatwa – Inability to find any state of yoga. This happens due to faulty or poor practice and creates a feeling of being “stuck” and leads to discouragement.

9. Anavasthitatwani – Inability to maintain any state of yoga. Not able to maintain an attained stage can be a real frustration. This again can be a result of faulty or poor practice.When any of these primary obstacles are encountered, four minor obstacles may appear according to specific circumstances.

The four minor obstacles are:

1. Duhkha – Pain or sorrow.

2. Daurmanasya – depression, pain caused by non-fulfilment of desires.

3. Angamejayatwa – tremors of parts of the body.

4. Shvâsa-prashvâsa – disturbances in kumbhaka or breath retention causing the irregular breathing pattern that comes with mental agitation.

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