- Vyadhi – Illness
- Styana – Dullness
- Samshaya – Doubt
- Pramada – Negligence
- Alasya – Laziness
- Avirati – Excessive Sensuality
- Bhrantidarshana – False Perception
- Alabdhabhumikatva – Not Attaining Stages
- Anavasthitatvani – Not Maintaining Achieved Level
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali ।1-30। पतंजलि योग सूत्र ।१-३०।
व्याधि स्त्यान संशय प्रमाद आलस्य अविरति भ्रन्तिदर्शन अलबधभूमिकत्व अनवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपाः थे अन्तरायाः।
Sanskrit transliteration: vyaadhi styaana samshaya pramaada aalasya avirati bhraantidarshana alabdhabhuumikatva anavasthi tatvaani cittavikshepa te antaraayaaha
Illness, dullness, doubt, negligence, laziness, sensuality, false perception, not attaining stages, not maintaining level, these are impediments caused by mind distractions.
Rishi Patanjali enumerated 9 Impediments to progress on the yoga path. Let’s look deeper how they disturb the practitioner and what we can do to help it.
1. Vyadhi – Illness
According to yoga the body gets ill because of the mental imbalances. Our thoughts, decisions and actions affect our physical self. And vice versa the state of the body influences our psychological self. It’s a closed loop of influence – mind on body and body on mind.
The Mind can become unhealthy due to stress, putting excessive pressure on oneself or having too many expectations from life. Living in conflict, fear and tension lead to psychological issues.
Improper diet, inadequate sleep and lack of exercise is detrimental to the physical body.
When mind and body are consumed by disease the only thing we think of and feel is just that.
It’s not a conducive situation for maintaining concentration when the body continually uses the energy for recovery and the mind is busy experiencing pain. It prevents satisfying practice.
One should do the best to maintain good health by positive mental attitudes as well as optimal lifestyle, proper diet, good amount of sleep and regular exercise. Keeping the body and mind fit & thriving enables us to enjoy the practice and get full results from it.
2. Styana – Dullness
When the consciousness is darkened and slow it’s hard to absorb any teachings. To even remember the instructions of asana, pranayama and meditation the mind needs to be sharp. There are things that positively or negatively affect our intelligence and competence.
Junk food, intoxicants, excessive amounts of sleep, waking up late and company of negative people have adverse effects on our intellectual capacities. Dullness is the result of unhealthy living that robs us of vitality. Any energetic abuse will result in stupor.
From the other side inspiring teachings, beautiful art, creative hobbies, healthy habits, yogic lifestyle, uplifting company of encouraging and motivating people increase our mental skills.
Avoiding conflicts, letting go of need to be right or better than others, intelligent prioritising of what is and what is not important in life can greatly increase the level of peacefulness. That inner calmness preserves our psychic energy and is conducive for mental concentration. It’s very important to remember that being focused, sharp and tuned in is the result of profound calming down of the nervous system.
3. Samshaya – Doubt
Doubt can be the biggest hindrance of all the obstacles. Even if physical and mental capacity are there, scepticism, indecision or lack of trust can sabotage all our enterprises. There can be two aspects to doubting.
First is the lack of faith in oneself. There can be a great practice but a person undermining oneself prevents any success or progress.
The Second aspect is the lack of belief or trust in a teacher or a teaching. From that comes holding back. The energy is not fully applied and there aren’t any good results from doing things halfly.
Honest dedication, enthusiasm and faith are necessary ingredients for bringing about favourable outcome and transformation.
4. Pramada – Negligence
In life what we don’t care about goes away or perishes. Sloppiness never takes anyone far. Blooming, development and thriving are the results of nourishing. Flowers need watering, love relationships good energy sharing, and yoga practice attentiveness, regularity and awareness of direction. To truly care about oneself, others and life brings amazing energy in and makes everything around blossom.
5. Alasya – Laziness
State of dormancy and inactivity don’t allow evolution, expansion and progress. There can be several reasons for the feeling of laziness.
Indifference happens when we are simply disinterested in something, either thinking it’s boring or that it doesn’t bring any benefits so there is no will to make effort. It is a natural response to saving energy when we do not feel inspired or excited about some ideas.
Laziness can also come from giving up because of mentally not grasping something, not understanding a teaching, and therefore thinking we are not good or capable enough to have success so there is even no point in trying.
Sluggishness can be caused by physical disability or exertion. When someone is low on energy level the slackness and wanting of just doing nothing follows. Taking care of the body can definitely help. However a very interesting fact in psychology is that once inspiration is found, we also start feeling stronger and fitter physically.
Dynamism of growth takes us out of inertia and passivity. Seeing that we are progressing, feeling that we are developing and continually becoming better at something is very empowering, enlivening and positively stimulating.
All life is about evolution, growth and overcoming weaknesses. To combat lack of motivation, procrastination, it is crucial to start the practice and continue doing it for a long time. Like a snowball, once it’s rolling on the snow it gets bigger on its own. It’s the same for us, once we’re in motion there is a natural tendency of growth, which is positively stimulating and promising. Any first results are encouraging and empowering.
It’s also important to remember our initial motivation and keep spirit high in the moments of difficulties. Acknowledging any small positive outcomes and improvements can cheer us up, give strength and reassure us of success in the long term. We need to always remember that any large achievement is built from small steps.
6. Avirati – Sensuality
Being overly sensual wakes up too many desires. Experiencing any pleasure makes us miss it and want to have it again in the future. We crave things from present perception or past impressions in memory. In both cases the information was firstly brought to us by the senses of perception and we need to become masters of what we register inside our consciousness. When we try to focus but the mind is craving pleasures it’s disturbing to the practice. It’s like trying to fight the current of the river swimming against it. Yoga practitioners need to silence the desires by not bombarding the senses with ever new and exciting experiences. Vital force gets dissipated when we are running after outer objects. When we turn our senses within, we save the energy and can use it for exploration of our inner landscape. In yoga and meditation, we employ our vital force to discover the microcosm of our soul which reflects the macrocosm of the whole creation. Yogi turning within discovers the whole universe.
7. Bhrantidarshana – False Perception
When our mind is clouded we interpret the reality rather than perceive it as it really is. The more emotional and reactive we are the more we distort everything that we experience. It’s as if the glasses through which we look are so tainted that they change the colour of everything we see. Modern life happens very fast and fills us up with too much information. Every day is translated through feelings and opinions coming from our past. We label people and things, we use definitions, categorise. But this is not the correct perception. Teachings of masters also get distorted. Being a dreamer, thinking oneself better or worse than others, getting stuck with pride over first psychic attainments are also a form of false perception of who we are. Going off the path, getting lost, not doing what has to be done is also due to wrong perception of reality, not recognising the landscape in which we move. Imagination, fantasy and not taking responsibility for duties in life on excuse of higher aspirations is also lying to oneself and therefore not living the truth. The whole point of practice is to start becoming more and more aware. More and more responsible for one’s life. To stop going round in circles in denial and falsehood. In yoga and meditation, we silence the mind to calm and empty ourselves to be able to truly see reality as it is without judgements.
8. Alabdhabhumikatva – Not Attaining Stages
To progress in any practice, we need to make regular steps forward. Inability to proceed stage by stage is a serious obstacle. It’s caused by all the points described above. Whether it’s due to lack of faith in oneself or practice, being incapable to improve for some reason, being lazy, running after pleasures – blocking or dissipating the energy in any way doesn’t let us reach milestones. Each of these points are interrelated. Putting effort in overcoming any one impediment will help conquering the other ones too.
9. Anavasthitatvani – Not Maintaining Level
Once a level is achieved it’s also a question to maintain it and not go backwards energetically. In initial stages of practice there might be common obstacles and things that could possibly throw us back. Even meeting with wrong people can reverse us. In advanced stages of practice the traps are trickier. When we start developing special psychic gifts through deep meditation, we might become proud or tempted to use them in a wrong way. Deeper rooted and more dangerous desires could still possibly pull us down. The farther in practice we reach the more cautious and sensitive we need to remain. Ego and mind have many catches. Following the guidance and listening to the warnings of enlightened teachings can save the practitioner from falling.
These 9 impediments called Antarayah are accompanied by further 4 distracting reactions of the mind and body called Sahabhuva. To learn about them you can read the following article by clicking on this link.