ANTARAYAS: THE 09 OBSTACLES TO YOGA
The path of yoga can be long and hard, filled with obstacles, pitfalls, and detours. Luckily, yogic philosophy provides a roadside assistance program to aid you when you become stuck.
The yogis who have traveled the path before we have left us a troubleshooting guide called Antarayas, or the 09 obstacles of yoga. Knowing and studying these Antarayas will give you more skill, compassion, and understanding as you progress in your yoga practice.
The 09 Obstacles of Yoga
Patanjali describes the 09 obstacles of yoga by breaking them down into two sets. The first set of Antarayas is the primary and most common obstacle one will encounter in yoga. The second set contains four minor obstacles, several of which are very uncommon.
The nine main obstacles of yoga are:
- Vyadhi – Illness, disease, physical or mental. It is difficult to do yoga if you are physically sick. Thus it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of illness and promotion of optimal health.
- Styana – Apathy, disinclination towards performing one’s kartavya or duty. By procrastinating, we avoid our practice and create excuses for not being on the path and doing the work.
- Sanshaya – doubting one’s capability or the result of yoga. We can only come to know Reality, declares the Brihad-Âranyaka-Upanishad (4.4.23), when we are free from doubt. It is important to cultivate faith in oneself as well as the yogic path.
- Pramada – Heedlessness, 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.
- Alasya – Sloth, the inertia of mind or body due to dominance of the tamasic element. Yoga requires discipline, zeal, and tapas (willpower) to succeed on its path. Laziness will prevent you from attaining your highest potential.
- Avirati – 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.
- Bhrantidarshan – False vision, 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.
- Alabdha-bhumikatva – Non-attainment of the next yogic stage or accomplishment. This happens due to faulty or poor practice and creates a feeling of being “stuck” and leads to discouragement.
- Anawasthitatwa – Instability, non-permanence of a yogic accomplishment or stage. Not being able to maintain an attained stage can be a real drag. This again can be a result of faulty or poor practice.