Friday, July 16, 2010

Yoga Sutra 2.3: The Things That Get in the Way

In sutra 2.2 Patanjali says yoga reduces the sutra 2.3, he names the afflictions:

"The five afflictions which disturb the equilibrium of consciousness are: ignorance or lack of wisdom, ego, pride of the ego, or the sense of 'I', attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain, fear of death and clinging to life" --Iyengar translation

so I'm pondering on where each of these show up in my practice...where do I have a chance to work on them?

"ignorance or lack of wisdom"
I'm not sure there are specific parts of practice that come to my mind when I think of lessening this affliction. Much of practice is a regular reminder that I have so much to learn! Time itself may be the best teacher when if comes to "lack of wisdom".

"ego, pride of the ego, or the sense of 'I'"
Hmmm...lots of work to do here. This makes me think specifically of Uttitha Hasta Pandangustasana. It's the moments when I think "I've got this!" or "I'm good at this!" that I inevitably fall over. Ego has a tendency to metaphorically "knock me over" in life off the mat as well. A willingness to laugh at myself is definitely helpful here.

"attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain"
The method of samavritti (literally means same waves) or equal breath makes me more and more aware of my tendencies here. I notice that in asana practice, I tend to let the breath get longer in the places of comfort (a nice forward bend) and shorter in the places of discomfort (chataranga or anything requiring strength to hold). If I hold the rest of my life up to the same light of awareness, the same is true. Lots more work to do here on the mat and off.

"fear of death and clinging to life"
I've heard it said more than once that all fears are ultimately a fear of death or "non-being" (though at the moment, can't recall just who actually should get the credit for saying that). The daily work of doing something that brings up fear (the particular fear triggers keep changing as my practice evolves) has been one of the greatest gifts that I have gotten from this practice. All the things in my life that have brought the greatest amount of joy have started with a moment when I made a choice to "take a deep breath and jump!"


  1. Hi Christine,
    I was just surfing to find something about Sutra's that I can relate to and found yours! I loved how you explained the relation between your practice and the Sutra's. So true for me too, the greatest decisions of my life are the ones that I took a deep breath and jump into it.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks! Glad you found your way to the blog and enjoyed the post. I've read the Yoga Sutras a few times now, but find something new every time. :)