Book: Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali  By: BKS Iyengar


Sutras 1:30 and 1:31 delineate the obstacles/impediments to our yoga practice and daily life.  Sutras 1:32-1:39 describe how to prevent… By adherence to his single-minded effort…Or by… Or by… And so on. (therefore called the “Or By” Sutras)



Sutra 1:30

These obstacles are disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance, and backsliding. These obstacles can be divided into physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual. The nine obstacles are:



  1. Disease
  2. Lack of interest sluggishness



3. Lingering doubt in decision

4.Thoughtlessness or carelessnes

5. Idleness, laziness

6.Lacking in moderation or control



7. Living under illusion/fantasy, mistaken notions



8.Lack of preservation/determination, not being able to hold onto what has been undertaken, can’t maintain achieve progress, missing the point, disappointed in ones desired object

9. Inability to maintain the progress obtain due to pride or stagnation in practice, unsettled state, scattered mind causing distraction

Patanjali indicates that Self-Realization is possible only when consciousness is free from these obstacles/impediments.


Sutra 1:31

Sorrow, despair, unsteadiness of the mind and your regular breathing further distract the citta/mind.

Four causes

  1. Sorrow – grief
  2. Despair –misery, depression, gloom
  3. Tremors of the body
  4. Irregular breathing

The obstacles/ impediments are of 3 types:  self-inflicted, imbalances of elements in the body and problems brought about fate/genetic defect.


Sutra 1:32

Adherence to single – minded effort prevents these obstacles or impediments.

1. Devotion to Surrendering to the Divine of your choice.  Or the Goodness w/in.

2. Meditation

(a challenge when many of us are still caught up in pleasure and pain, joy inside, success and failure)


Sutra 1:33

Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent/ compassionate. These qualities keep the mind in the state of well-being. This is the groundwork of our journey towards self-realization.

(Citta vikspa is a current of disturbed thoughts running like a river. Citta prasadana, is graceful diffusion, the turbulent flow is dammed up and consciousness diffuses calmly like a lake)


Sutra 1:34

Or by, maintaining the pensive state felt at the time of soft and steady exhalation and during passive retention after exhalation.


Sutra 1:35

Or by,  contemplating an object that helps to maintain steadiness of mind and consciousness.


Sutra 1:36

Or by, inner stability is gained by contemplating a luminous, sorrowless, effulgent, light.  (The seat of the Soul)


Sutra 1:37

Or by, contemplating on enlightened sages who are free from desires and attachments, calm and tranquil, or by contemplating divine object.


Sutra 1:38

Or by, recollecting and contemplating the experience of dream-filled or dreamless sleep during a watchful, waking state.   (unconscious, subconscious, consciousness, and superconsciousness)  Merging the individual soul with the Universal Soul.


Sutra 1:39

Or by, meditating on any desired object conducted to steadiness of consciousness.

The most pleasing object of meditation is in the fact of one’s very existence, the core of the being.


This is the last of the six alternative method of filling the mind and consciousness. This group of Sutras shows that Patanjali’s teaching was broad-based, enabling people of all creeds and all walks of life to aspire to live’s spiritual goal.


All of the above is taken and quoted from the book: Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar.  Pages 78-85