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Yoga Sutras For Modern Day Life: Yoga Should Change You

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:30: Obstacles (distractions)  on the path of yoga are sickness,dullness (inertia),

Defining the Sutra

A distraction to staying on the path of yoga is inertia or dullness/styana.  The purpose of yoga is to realize that you are not your thoughts or emotions and that you can be happy regardless of  the circumstances of your life. For most people to get to this place of freedom , a huge shift has to occur in their heart, mind, and lives.  To be resistant to this change, is to be resistant to yoga.

Also change is the nature of the universe.  Seasons change. We live and die. It is rainy today and sunny tomorrow.  To be uncomfortable with change is to be uncomfortable with life. When we go against the current of life, we create suffering.

Most people who embark on the path of yoga, do so because they were seeking a change in their life. Whether you came to yoga for peace, enlightenment, fun or a workout, there was something in your life that you felt could be enhanced by the practice. In order to have the benefits of yoga permanently, a lifestyle change has to occur. A resistance to this change is inertia or dullness and is an obstacle on the path of yoga.



Modern Day Application:


Signs of Styana/Dullness/Inertia


Self Defeating Thoughts


Reluctance to Commit

Life in Limbo

Stuck in a Rut

Holding on to Rigid Beliefs

Difficulty Dealing with Change

Unwilling to Change

Reluctance to Question One’s Thoughts or Beliefs

Close Minded

Closed Heart

Unwilling to Try New Things

Unwilling to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Self Sabotage

Stopping when things get hard

Vatayanasana (2)121

Where Do We see this in Our Ashtanga Practice?


Making excuses for our practice or lack thereof

An unwillingness to commit to the process, teacher or style of yoga

Having a practice that is in limbo due to an unwillingness to change ones lifestyle or do the required work

Closed off from the teachers advice or unwilling to accept their instruction

Self defeating thoughts about your body or ability to progress or thrive in the practice

Unwilling to move on even when the teacher has recommended it

Closed down to the spiritual side of the practice

An inability to release tension in the body

Breath feels caught

Muscles constantly tight and constricted

Having the same injuries over and over again

Practice not changing us internally

Practice not reflecting into our life

Unwilling to go beyond what is comfortable

Stopping when things get hard

urdhava dhanurasana1006


Why This is Important



If you want your life to shift, your actions have to shift. Constantly suffering but being unwilling to change is insanity. Yoga is a path that takes us away from suffering but if we are unwilling to change, the yoga won’t work.

What is changing? Not consciousness. It is constant. As you get a closer connection to the real you, habits that served your ego or false identity fall away. The falling away of the false self appears as change.

Choose your teachers and your yoga based on how it changes you and grows you off the mat. Practice a yoga or find a teacher that forces you to look at your neurosis, not one that helps you to run away from it.



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 shanna@shannasmallyoga.com.

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