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Yoga Sutras For Modern Day Life: Laziness

Yoga Sutras of Patanajali 1:30: The obstacles to yoga are disease, dullness, doubt,carelessness, laziness


This continues the discussion on the obstacles to yoga. For past posts on the Yoga Sutras, go here.

Defining the Sutra

This famous quote above from Pattabhi Jois pretty much sums it up. You don’t need special abilities to do yoga. You don’t have to be flexible, strong, affluent, pretty,  or wear fancy yoga cloths. You just have to be willing to do the work.




Never before in humanity’s history was survival on this planet so organized, so simple and easy. You can just go to a store and buy everything that you need. Once survival has been taken care of, this is the time to break the shell and know life in its larger possibility. If, after having all these comforts and well being, you don’t make it, there doesn’t seem to be a hope anywhere in the future, isn’t it so? Everything has been taken care of. This is the time. “No, I can’t pay my bills, I can’t do this, I can’t do that.” That rubbish is always there because even if I give you a million dollars, tomorrow you will still have more bills. You are capable of that, aren’t you?

So, this is the time to do it. When filling the belly is not such a big issue, this is the time to do it. This time in our life should not pass without knowing life in its profoundness. Once survival is taken care of for you, you cannot go on without knowing life in its full depth and dimension.-Sadhguru

Modern Day Application

We live in a day and time when yoga is everywhere. There is a yoga studio on every corner with classes from 6AM through 8:30PM yet people still can’t  find a time to practice. Every yoga studio I know has some type of work study program or a few discounted/free classes yet people still say they can’t afford yoga.There are books on yoga in almost every library and book store in America but people still don’t understand what it is. Feel uncomfortable being around people? There is yoga all over the internet that you can do in the comfort of your own home. Yoga is abundant in our world. The barriers only exist in our own heads. These perceived barriers are often a result of laziness.

What does it mean to be lazy? Laziness goes beyond just laying around on the couch.  Many people are very busy being busy. Their schedules are full but internally, they feel empty. Their lifestyles have resulted in a dullness around the mind and around the heart. This dullness is another one of the obstacles, listed by Patanjali, on the path of yoga. This dullness often leads to laziness.

Why would an extraordinarily active person still be considered lazy? Lets look at the definition from Google.


  1.  unwilling to work or use energy.

The word “unwilling” is very important. When many people think of a lazy person, they picture someone who sits around doing nothing all day. In many people’s minds, being busy and being successful go hand and hand. This has resulted in a a society where people fill every waking moment with activity. Why are we willing to use our energy in the pursuit of activities that don’t feed us spiritually and not for the ones that do? The answer to this question is individual and not easy to answer. What I do know for sure is that it goes deeper than just  simply being too busy.




This zen saying points to two ideas. If you are to busy to take time for yourself, there is a bigger issue that you need to sit with and contemplate and if you are super busy, you need a meditative practice more then ever.

This is not to be confused with disinterest.  If yoga is not for you or it is simply a hobby you do in your spare time and you are unwilling to put energy towards it, that is your prerogative.  This is for the people who want the wisdom and practice of yoga to be a part of their lives but they just can’t seem to make it happen.  This is about taking an honest look at your perceived barriers to a consistent yoga practice and finding the willingness to make the yoga happen in your life.



Why It is Important

Patanjali and Krishnamacharya did two things that made yoga accessible to anyone who wanted it.  Patanjali compiled the wisdom of yoga into a book and made it accessible to all. Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga,  simplified the practice and made it work for a busy modern lifestyle.   You don’t have to live in a cave in the mountains. You don’t have to be a renunciate and  give up your family and possessions. You simply have to be willing to dedicate a small amount of time to the practice.  Remember that laziness is the unwillingness to use energy. Yoga is asking that we be willing to set aside some energy in our life for practice.

Yoga is asking us to let go of being hamsters on a wheel burning our energy away but going nowhere. It is asking us to stop being lazy about our lives and to stop and take an active part in building our lives.


If you cannot even conduct your mind the way you want it, the question of life happening the way you want is remote. You can only be successful by accident, not by intent.

When you are successful by accident, you live in fear. People have landed up in places just by accident, and they live in enormous anxiety all the time because they are successful by chance; they did not get there by their own dint. They somehow got there, so now they are fearful every day. But when you are successful by intent, you know you can do it. If the whole thing gets washed away tomorrow, you will rebuild it once again.

When you do anything accidentally, invariably, you will suffer the process. If you know how to drive your car well, it can be a joy. But if you don’t know how to drive and do it accidentally, it can be enormous suffering. Every process of life can become a huge suffering if you do it accidentally. People are successful by accident. That is why they are suffering their success. If you suffer your failure it is bad enough, but if you suffer your success, then your life is 100% tragedy-Sadhguru

The act of setting aside time for yourself and your practice is a message to yourself and to the world that you will not be second place in your own life. You know your importance in the world and you have chosen to be an active participant. You will not be lazy about how you use your energy. You will be powerful and masterful in the use of your energy. You are willing to live to your highest potential and do the greatest good for the world.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”-Howard Thurman

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail