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Yoga Sutra 1.30: Distractions on the Path

vyadhi styana samsaya pramada alasya avirati bhrantidarsana alabdha bhumikatva anavasthitatvani citta viksepha te antarayah

There are a variety of distractions that can appear on our path to yoga.

Vyadhi - Disease

Styana - Apathy

Samsaya - Doubt

Pramada - Neglect

Alasya - Sloth

Avirati - Desire

Bhrantidarsana - Blind Opinion

Anavasthitatvani - Instability

Citta - Mind

Viksepah - Distractions

Te - These

Antarayah - Obstacles

I had been living in Bali for 1.5 years when one day, me and my assistant in Bali, Intan, went down to Denpasar, the city, to get new custom yoga props for the Mindful Life Practice Retreat Centre. We were having the best day ever, until I suddenly got hit by a car on my motorbike and had to go to the emergency room. Thank god I had been wearing a helmet and I didn’t have any injuries other than a fractured wrist. My ankle was in pain as well.

When they heard about this injury, a lot of people were worried that I wouldn’t be able to practice yoga. Alot of people were worried I wouldn’t be able to keep running the community. But I saw this as an opportunity to really stand in my spirituality and carry on my practice. My practice just might look different and might include more rest. Sutra 1.30 is all about this: that we have a tendency to give up in the face of obstacles and distractions.

No matter how committed you are to your yoga practice, obstacles will arise on your path. You will get sick. You will procrastinate your practice. You will doubt yourself and wonder, “what’s the point?” You will lose focus. You will get lazy. You will crave alcohol. Your judgements of yourself and others will come to the surface again. You will lose sight of the goal of yoga and think its about doing a headstand. Or your ego will get super big and you’ll think you’re the guru.

In Sutra 1.30, Pantanjali wrote out these obstacles, one by one, in a list. He offers nine obstacles that naturally arise on the path. They are:

  • Physical illness

  • Procrastination

  • Doubt

  • Inability to focus

  • Laziness

  • Cravings/Desire/Materialism

  • Incorrect Assumptions

  • Failing to understand the point of yoga

  • Inability to remain grounded

The next sutra will explain the results of these obstacles.

Interested in learning more about Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras? I teach an online Yoga Sutra Study course. Join the next cohort here!

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