Woman doing cartwheel on beach

Avidyasmita Raga Dvesabhinivesah Klesah= Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles.

In this sutra Patanjali is describing the 5 klesahs or obstacles that keep us from experiencing the state of yoga.

Said another way: He’s saying that ALL of us have things that get in the way of our JOY!  Of course your exact circumstances will be different from mine, but practicing yoga can be one tool that helps you “get out of your own way”.

I really like that he uses the word “obstacle”.  There’s no negative connotation associated with this word. An obstacle is simply a neutral “object” that stands between you and your happiness and it’s not our job to judge it. Our job is to figure out whether we’re going to use our yoga practice to climb over it, under it, go around it or remove the obstacle all together.

Yoga teaches that there are only 5 true obstacles to our happiness (the 5 klesas):

  1. ignorance- not knowing the truth of your being
  2. egoism- identifying with only the physical world
  3. attachment- clinging to the “good” things
  4. aversion- hating and avoiding the “bad” things
  5. fear of death

So what could be an “obstacle” in your life?

So in real mom life?

When the baby cries at 2am we think “I am a bad mother because I should have sleep trained him better by now” (ignorance). When the house is messy and we want it to be clean we think “I hate stepping on toys and crumbs everywhere” (aversion). And maybe when we are misunderstood by our spouse we think “He never gets me and this marriage thing might not work out. If it doesn’t I’m going to be out on my own and I don’t know how I’m going to take care of myself and my kids on my own” (fear of death)

Obviously I’m making really cheeky examples but there is some relevance here – yes?

The point here is that our environment, no matter how “bad” it is, is never the cause of our unhappiness.  Unhappiness is always a consequence to the thoughts we think and the reactions to our world.

You could be just starting out with yoga and feel like you’re not capable of keeping up with the other students in the classes you take. In this case the obstacle is YOUR thoughts about the situation you find myself in. (Just because you think you’re not capable, doesn’t make it true).

So, in this case your job is NOT to judge yourself as bad or weak! Or to even judge your teacher or classmates as “amazing yogis”.

Your job is to decide what you want to do with this thought that has become an obstacle to your feeling happy.

You could choose to take a different class. You could choose to ask the teacher for extra 1-on-1 help to “get up to speed”. You could practice at home where you won’t feel judged.  All things that will make you feel MORE capable in yoga!

And more importantly all things that will make you feel happier!

What obstacles are standing in front of you being a more happy and joyful mama?