Yoga Sutra 1.30 The 9 Obstacles that Confuse the Mind.3 min read

I really like to read Yoga Sutras, they keep me alert, they help me get back to my practice, they are grounding me. Patanjali, in the opinion of many (and mine), is a scientist, a scientist who has analyzed man and can help you if you study and practice yoga techniques to heal yourself and reach the higher levels of your being. To meet the best version of yourself.

In this sutra he refers to something very important, to the 9 obstacles/poisons that create confusion to the mind, concealing what is unchanged in man, says Patanjali and of course he talks about samhadi(liberation), the ultimate goal of Yoga. But are there not the same obstacles we encounter in anything we have to manage? Every time I look at them I notice that I have a bit of everything, that they change with the periods, disappear and come back again. And that is why I often sabotage myself. This is why this time I printed them on paper and put them in a prominent place in my house so I can see them and recognize them when they come.

But which are these? Let’s see below …

vyadhi styana sanshaya pramada-alasya-avirati bhrantidarshana-alabdha-bhumkatva-anavasthitatvani chitta-viksepah te antarayah ||30||

व्याधि स्त्यान संशय प्रमादाअलस्याविरति भ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपाः ते अन्तरायाः ॥३०॥

These obstacles (antarayas) disease, rigidness, doubt, recklessness, desire, laziness, lack of goals,non-independence hide what is unchanged in human beings (chitta).

  • vyādhi – Disease = Disease is defined as 1. Non-comfort / Pain 2. Sadness / Depression 3. Stress 4. Intermittent Breath (Prana-flow, associated with psychology). At Ashtanga Yoga the Treatment is the 1st series (yoga chikitsα = yoga therapy) which restores the health of the body. If our body is out of balance, the mind is naturally affected as well. That is why the asana (physical part) has traditionally always been of the utmost importance.
  • styāna – Rigidness/ Stiffness / Stagnation (Tamasic sensations) = The treatment is movement. Typically we say that an armored heart is created. Of course, we are not only talking about physical stiffness, but also about a person’s non-adaptability in new situations, or about not accepting the changes. One can only believe that he is right and does not understand that the opposite opinion may also be right.
  • saṁśaya -Doubt (especially self-doubt) = The treatment is the empowerment of the self through the practice and its tools. Confidence in self and the decisions that we take.
  • pramāda – Impatience / Recklessness = When we are impatient the mind goes to the future and often we become reckless. In our practice, this usually leads to injury (maybe to our lives also?). The treatment is breathing.
  • ālasya – Lazyness / Drowsy (Tamasic Senses) – The treatment is the movement. In the practice of yoga we often say that the goal can be achieved in 1 year, 5 years or 30 years, we are talking about a life practice…
  • avirati – Satisfaction of the senses/ Overconsumption = The treatment is the path of self-discipline that through this we learn to stop. The strongest people are those who do not support their happiness on external factors.
  • bhrānti-darśana – Instability in the mind – In Ashtanga Yoga is dealt through the practice of Tristana (Bandhas-Dristhi-Ujayi Breath). This technique develops our ability to concentrate and to be present. Another tool is meditation.
  • alabdha-bhūmikatva – Inability to achieve a situation = Avoid all the things that drain your vitality. Observe what takes from you power, agility, devotion, intelligence.
  • anavasthitatvāni – Inability to maintain a situation = I create a stable ground/foundation through my practice (ashtanga yoga through the 1st series) and cultivate tapas (self-discipline, internal fire). I coordinate and listen to my inner teacher’s wisdom.

I wish you good practice!


Marianna Thimiaki



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