This is a very important factor that people miss out. Overeating brings all
sorts of other illnesses including obesity, heart troubles and digestive
disorders. Oily and spicy food taken for the sake of pleasing the tongue puts a
heavy burden on the digestive system. Our stomach is not a factory to work 24/7
and it eventually breaks down if continuously overloaded. The energy that should
have been otherwise utilized for higher practice is wasted in digesting the food
alone. Hence moderate diet is a must for any Yoga practitioner.
Yoga says that
you should fill half the stomach with food, one quarter with water and remaining
quarter should be left empty for gases. Also, one should offer everything that
is being consumed to the God. Keep in mind that "amount of food taken" and
"amount of energy spend" must have a proper balance.
In order to perform hard physical labor we need to spend lot of energy. A
Yogi should focus on spending his energy only in his sadhana. A tired body and
mind can not remain concentrated resulting in poor quality of practice. Of
course one must perform daily duties.
Talking too much
We come across many people who are talkative or rather talk too much. Talking
too much not only wastes energy but also causes mind to scatter. A sadhaka must
avoid discussing gossips and useless chatting. Practicing Mauna Vrata is
helpful in stabilizing your mind.
Mixing with common people
A sadhaka should avoid mixing with common people. It is often said - "Do not
engage with fools They first drag you at their level and then beat you with
their experience." The same thing happens when you mix with ordinary people.
Unknowingly they infect you with their worldly desires and expectations. Keeping
that in mind one should give more emphasis on Satsanga.
Observances of severe vows
A sadhaka needs to observe strict disciplines in daily life. However, he
should not follow severe vows such as fasting and bathing with ice cold water.
By torturing one's own body one can not become Yogi. A careful judgment is
necessary while applying any such rules.
A common man possesses very unsteady body and mind. In order to succeed in
Yoga one must have steady body (Kaya Sthairyam) and one pointed mind. Yogi
should be able to sit in place for hours. That's why Hatha Yoga gives so much
emphasis on Asanas. One must also learn to control the mind that is
otherwise unsteady like wind.
A body weakened by diseases can not perform higher spiritual practices. The
quality of Yoga postures, Pranayama and Meditation degrades when your body is
suffering from some illness. Diseases weaken the Prana in the body and progress
can not be achieved.
Mental dullness is another big obstacle. If your mind is in dull you can not
concentrate on what you are doing. This dullness often starts creeping when you
sit for Meditation and then you feel bored.
People often doubt about their path and progress. They always keep thinking
whether they are on right path and progressing. Such doubt will take you
nowhere. You must have complete faith on your path and practices you are
It is often said that to err is human. However, one should be very carefully
on the path of self-realization. Your mistakes in following the spiritual rules
and guidelines can delay your progress. Mistakes in technical aspects of the
practice can even cause injury or harm. So mistakes should be avoided with great
Laziness is a big enemy of any Yoga aspirant. A mind full of laziness can not
make any progress. Often people start Yoga with a lot of enthusiasm but after
few weeks give up because of laziness. Getting up early in the morning, doing
Asanas, Pranayama, Meditation regularly all these things sound boring after
laziness possesses your mind body equipment.
Craving for material pleasures hinders your spiritual progress. If day and
night you are thinking about wealth and luxuries then where is the time for
self-realization? Craving for material objects also weakens your mind power
because it makes you slave of the sense organs.
After achieving some progress many people start feeling that they need not
practice anymore. They imagine themselves very near to the destination. They
feel that Maya can no longer affect them. Some even feel attaining
self-realization just by reading books! All these are misconceptions.
Inability to maintain stages of practice
By consistent practice one reaches certain stage but then suddenly progress
halts. Mind can't achieve the same level of concentration. Then one starts
thinking that there must be something wrong. This is very critical stage. Yoga
practice always goes through ups and downs. One must continue the practice with
the same zeal and enthusiasm as before.
Lack of concentration
Mind runs with the speed of light. You never know when it wanders away from
its goal. It is very difficult to control it. Focusing mind on your practice is
the key part of self-realization. Lack of concentration makes your practice
Above obstacles generate symptoms of mental distraction such as pain,
depression, shaking of the body during practice and unsteady breath. All the
above obstacles must be overcome with constant efforts. You must try to calm
your mind through Yogic techniques.
Often happiness and sorrow, good and bad disturbs our mind. To overcome such
disturbances you must cultivate the opposite qualities. You should cultivate
friendly attitude towards happiness, compassion towards sorrow, Gladness towards
good and indifference towards the bad. Once you cultivate such attitude you will
find that mind becomes purer day by day and finally comes under control.
Practice of Pranayama and Meditation also helps to a great degree to root out
these obstacles. In later lessons you will learn in details various techniques
that are helpful in this regards.
To summarize this lesson:
- Overeating, hard work, talking too much, mixing with common people,
Observances of severe vows and Unsteadiness are obstacles at physical level
- Diseases, mental dullness, doubt, mistakes, laziness, craving,
misconceptions, Inability to maintain stages of practice and lack of
concentration are obstacles at mental level
- The obstacles can be removed by Yogic techniques such as Pranayama and
Meditation as well as by following a correct attitude towards life
May the Peace be with you.