In Hatha Yogapradipika, the elements that Success and Obstacles in yoga practice have been described. Out of which, the Sadhaka or practitioner should follow the yogi’s elements by renouncing the yoga-obstructing elements.
During yoga practice, there are some such demerits or bad habits which prevent the Sadhaka from moving forward in the path of yoga. Such demerits or bad habits are called obstacles in yoga. That is, those who harm the Sadhaka in moving forward in the path of yoga are called obstacles.
Obstacles in the Path of Yoga
Not only on the path of yoga but also for normal living, some rules are needed and there are some habits which we have to keep our distance from. Since those habits are obstructing yoga practice, they are extremely harmful not only to one’s physical health but also to one’s mental and spiritual health.
Probably that’s why Swami Swatmaram in his book Hatha Yoga Pradipika accepted 6 habits as obstacles which are as follows.
The Six Obstacles In Hatha Yoga Sadhana
In the first chapter of Hathapradipika, Swami Swatmaram has given six yoga obstacles.
Atyaahaarah prayaasshva prajalpo niyamagrahah;
Janasangashcha laulyam cha shadbhiryogo vinashyati
This means: Overeating, exertion, talkativeness, adhering to rules, more public contact, and unsteadiness are the six elements that destroy yoga, that is, there is an obstacle in the progress in the path of yoga, their explanation is given below-
Atyaahaarah/overeating: Atyahara i.e. eating too much food creates obstacles on the path of yoga. Swami Swatmaram has considered Atyahar as the first obstacle. To overeat, the digestive system of a person gets spoiled. Due to this, he gets diseases of the digestive system like indigestion and obesity. Secondly, a person becomes lazy by eating more food. At the same time, excessive eating leads to cravings for food. Due to the origin of raga, the Sadhaka is not able to move forward in yoga practice. Therefore, Atyaahaarah is an element that creates obstacles in the path of yoga. Along with a Yogi Sadhaka, other ordinary people should also avoid eating excessive food. It is beneficial for everyone not to eat excessively.
If one wastes time in the practice of Shatkarma, asanas, etc. to get rid of digestive diseases, then the practice of yoga naturally gets hampered.
Prayaasshva/Exertion: A Hatha Yoga Sadhaka should avoid excessively hard physical exertion or intense mental exertion. Excessive exertion on both body and mind, along with the growth of rajasic and tamasic qualities, creates an imbalance in physical and mental energies in the body, so the yoga Sadhaka should avoid over-exertion.
Prajalpo/Talkativeness: The practicality of speaking more leads to a loss of physical and mental energy. Too much talking also leads to an increase in public contact and this increase in negative attitudes like envy, jealousy, greed, attachment, etc. is an obstacle in the path of yoga. Too much talking for a yogi destroys vital energy, wastes time, and disturbs the mind. distracts from higher goals that could be better spent in spiritual practice to awaken inner awareness.
Niyamagrahah/ Adhering to Rules: There should not be too much in following the rules. Rules are made by the mind, by doing too much of it, the brain and body become victims of habit. And any type of habit, even if it is good, gives pain to the body and mind in the future. For example, if bathing with cold water early in the morning is considered essential for yoga practice, then it is not necessary to follow this rule in case of illness or extremely cold weather. Excessive discipline is an obstacle in the path of yoga practice.
Janasangashcha/ More public contact: The senses should have only so much contact with the external society that there should be no obstacle in their self-progress. With more public contact, all the senses start turning outward, due to which the peace of the self becomes unstable. Here Yogi does not mean that public contact should not be done at all, it is only an obstacle for the yogi. After being proven, it does not remain an obstacle. But even perfect men are seen to be contaminated after having too many public contacts.
Laulyam/ unsteadiness: This attitude is also an obstacle on the path of Yoga. The instability of the body becomes an obstacle to long-term spiritual practice. Negative instincts like jealousy, hatred, etc. increase the fickleness of the mind and create obstacles in the path of yoga.
9 Obstacles of Yoga Path According to Yoga Sutras
The Yoga Sutras, Sage Patanjali, who authored the Yoga Sutras, mentions the 9 obstacles in the yogic path.
According to Yogasutra, the Obstacles of yoga – are called Yogantaraya, which disturb the mind and destroy the concentration of the mind, that is why they are called yoga Antaraya or yoga obstacles.
vyādhistyānasanśaya pramādālasyāvirati bhrāntidarśanālabdha bhūmikatvānavasthitatvāni cittavikṣēpāstē̕ntarāyāḥ | – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, 1.30
1) Vyādhi – Physical illness or disease
That is, the name of the physical disease is Vyādhi.
Disruption of the body’s natural state of health leads to feeling tired, fatigued, sore, and routine; nocturnal; Chaos comes in all of these. Physical discomfort, imbalance, and disorders in the natural state, that is the disease.
2) Styāna – Apathy, lack of interest and enthusiasm, boredom
‘Styanam akarmanyata chittasya’ means the inactivity of the mind is called Styaan. The desire to practice samadhi is there in the mind, but it does not have that capability. Yoga is not accomplished only by desire, but it should have the power to practice yoga.
3) Samśaya – Doubt of the self-worth or ability
Regarding the practice of yoga, when a yogi sometimes has doubt whether he will be able to practice yoga or not? Will I get successful? Will Kaivalya be attained through samadhi? May my hard work go in vain? Then this skeptical knowledge becomes an obstacle to yoga.
4) Pramādā – Distraction, negligence & carelessness
A lack of enthusiasm in the means of samadhi is called Pramādā. After starting the practice of Samadhi, the same enthusiasm and poverty should remain in him continuously as the enthusiasm in the beginning.
5) Alasyā – Burnout, Heaviness
The body experiences heaviness due to the excess of lust and the mind due to the excess of Tamo guna. Due to the heaviness of body and mind, there is no tendency in the means of meditation, this is the name of Alasyā.
6) Avirati – Desire & Craving
To be entangled in any sense object and not to come out of it is Avirati. If you are hungry, then you eat, but if you keep thinking about food throughout the day, then it is continuous.
Similarly, if you feel like seeing some beautiful natural scenery, then watch it and finish it. It is futile to always think about seeing something.
Avirati does not allow you to concentrate, keeps pulling the mind here and there.
7) Bhrāntidarśanā – Living under illusions & Misunderstanding
False knowledge is called an illusion or Bhrāntidarśanā. When a yogi starts considering the means of yoga as a means and non-means as a means, then this misconception & Misunderstanding becomes an obstacle to yoga.
8) Alabdhabhūmikatvā – Doubting progress & ability to succeed
Yoga practice isn’t leading to the attainment of yogic states is also an obstacle in yoga.
9) Anavasthitatvā – Inability to maintain achievements
After attaining a particular yogic stage, if a yogi fails to maintain his commitments and efforts, he may slip down from that stage. This is called Inability or Anavasthitatvā.
You will need to be able to overcome or overcome these nine obstacles in order to be successful in yoga. They can appear at any time, and deflect. If any of the primary obstacles are not conquered, you allow yourself to become entangled and trapped in them. Unless you learn how to overcome yoga obstacles, they are likely to come back.
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