Obstacles: in Yoga and Beyond

When I reflect on my yoga practice and the journey it has taken me on over the years, I find myself continuously encountering the same obstacles as challenges within my practice.  These challenges are arguably beneficial as part of yoga in terms of their ability to help one learn and grow.  Considering the nine obstacles listed by Patañjali, I find myself at times combating lethargy and injury (illness) as a result of my strenuous dancing schedule (both here at school, but especially in the past few years dancing professionally).  Though Yoga has many benefits to me personally and as a supplement to my dance life, there are residual obstacles I often face in my practice.  If I can learn more about the tools and power of tapas, particularly the practice of pranayamas (regulated breathing techniques), then I might be able to more effectively combat these challenges.  I often utilize breath in my dancing for efficiency and stamina--and in daily life to settle my stomach and calm my nerves.  In yoga, these more extensive breath techniques (especially inhale and exhale breath retention practice) could certainly help me to energize as a combatant to lethargy.

Two other obstacles I often find myself coming up against are distraction  and pushing too far/over-stretching which in Patañjali’s list are expressed as haste or impatience.  The practice of Svadhaya in the Kriya Yoga umbrella is considered the process of self-inquiry and self-learning.  By taking a deep look at ourselves and the intentions behind our actions (with observation, not judgement), we are able to then hopefully find greater understanding of self.  If I can hone this self-inquiry, I could then hopefully understand the desires and drives that lead me to go too far in a shared community practice, and ideally learn to work and exist in the present, in the current place and time and disallow distractions or anxieties to limit the full scope and expression of my practice at that moment.