To progress in the practice of yoga, it is important to adhere to certain rules and distance oneself from harmful habits. Swami Swatmaram, in his book Hatha Yoga Pradipika, identified six elements that can hinder progress in yoga. These obstacles can affect physical, mental, and spiritual health, and it is essential to overcome them in order to achieve success in spiritual practice. Regardless of whether one practises yoga for material prosperity or spiritual attainment, obstacles are bound to arise. By recognising and mastering these obstacles, one can overcome them and reach their spiritual goals.
Here are the obstructive elements of yoga according to Hathapradipika presented in a point list:
- More public contact
- Insistence on the rules
- Restless/unsteady mind
The path of yoga presents six obstacles that may hinder one’s progress towards a healthy, balanced life. These obstacles are described in the Hathapradipika, a book by Swami Swatmaram. Understanding these obstacles and taking control over them can pave the way for a successful spiritual practice.
The six obstacles to yoga practice are over-talk, overeating, more public contact, more labor, insistence on the rules, and restless/unsteady mind.
Over-talk refers to people who are too imaginative and tend to speak too much, leading to wasting physical time and negative attitudes. Such people have low self-satisfaction and may experience acid reflux, murmuring, and lack of concentration.
Overeating is another obstacle that may affect people who talk too much. They tend to eat more and frequently, leading to fatigue and laziness. Eating fast food can affect digestion and cause digestive diseases, such as acidity, dyspepsia, and constipation. This condition can interrupt yoga sadhana, especially if time is wasted on activities like shatkarma, asana, etc., for digestion.
More public contact can hinder one’s progress towards self-awareness, as it distracts the senses and turns them outward, leading to the destruction of inner peace. More labor refers to excessive physical or mental exertion that can waste energy and disturb the mind. Yoga practitioners should avoid excessive exertion to prevent rajasic and tamasic qualities.
Insistence on the rules can create an obstacle for the sadhak. Following rules too strictly may harm the body and mind, leading to pain in the future. Sadhaks should not overdo the rules and make sure to maintain a balance between following rules and taking care of their well-being.
The root cause of all these obstacles is the restlessness of the mind. Negative attitudes such as jealousy, hatred, greed, attachment, and others can increase the restlessness of the mind, creating further obstacles in the path of yoga. Sadhaks should strive to stabilise the mind and avoid negative attitudes to achieve a successful spiritual practice.