Facing the 9 antarayas

Patanjali refers to the nine antarayas – disturbances or obstacles which commonly hinder us on our path towards progressing in yoga / our inner work. They are:

  1. Vyadhi: physical illness (either actual, in the form of frequent injury, or perceived, in the form of hypochondria).
  2. Styana: lack of interest or motivation, boredom (Master Shree says that this is simply nature reminding us that we are fundamentally alone).
  3. Samshaya: doubt or indecision (which can often show up as a lack of belief in ones own power, potential, or path).
  4. Pramada: carelessness, distraction, or unclear thinking (due to intoxication of some kind, exhaustion, or laziness usually).
  5. Alasya: fatigue and laziness (the kind of physical and mental lethargy that can often accompany depression).
  6. Avirati: indulgence in / desire for sense objects (desire for things that are beyond bodily needs, leaning into cravings / aversions).
  7. Bhrantidarshana: living in delusion / wrong understanding (the oft-dangerous stories that we tell ourselves about how things / people are which may misinform our thoughts or actions).
  8. Alabdhabhumikatva: not recognising progress that has been made, focusing on all that is still ahead (this is common when you have not fulfilled your expectations of yourself, and cannot focus on all that you have achieved because you’re in a ‘lack-focused’ mindset).
  9. Anavasthitatva: inability to maintain / grow your achieved progress (this may be due to a lack of Bhakti – devotion – or partly influenced by one of the other antarayas, but meditation can help in terms of keeping the self focused on achieving a specific goal).

I was thinking that this could be a very useful framework to understand challenges in our lives in general, not simply in Yoga. If we were able to apply this framework in diagnosing ourselves, I think we could discover a whole host of interesting insights in terms our patterns of self-sabotage that lead to us not achieving our goals.

This, along with the reminder of Johari’s Window (the mis/alignment of a) how you define yourself vs. b) how others define you vs. c) how you want others to define you vs. d) what you think about the world) could be very applicable tools to many different fields – empowering people to think more carefully and critically about the patterns of thought / action that make up who they are, and how they might want to change these patterns moving forward.