As we become more immersed in our yoga practice, we notice something amazing. Yoga is a tool for removing obstacles! The practice helps transform our lives and teaches us who we truly are. Fear dissipates, we feel calmer and more connected, and we find inner strength.
Reverend Jaganath Carerra tells us this transformation is innate in all of us. We simply need to align ourselves with nature, and we will evolve. In yoga, that can mean evolving through lifetimes, even from one species to another.
The Truth About Removing Obstacles
We’ve been taught to believe that only those who are fit survive. We think we need to add skills, strength, or power in a competitive way if we want to grow. Yoga reveals we are already divine beings. We only need to remove the clouds and confusion that keep us from knowing this truth. Then we can move freely on the path to enlightenment with a clear view.
Sutra 4.3, as translated by Jaganath Carrera explains:
Incidental events do not directly cause natural evolution; they just remove the obstacles as a farmer (removes the obstacles in a watercourse running to his field).
Individual Consciousness and Evolution in Yoga
As yogis, our goal is union with the divine. Does that mean we cease to be individuals? Patanjali tells us our minds create the appearance of individual, separate lives, but each person’s experience has the same origin. This is our source, and we must continue to work on removing obstacles that disconnect us from it.
Individualized consciousness proceeds from the primary ego-sense. (sutra 4.4)
Although the activities of the individualized minds may differ, one consciousness is the initiator of them all. (sutra 4.5)
Creating a Spiritual Environment
Environment is an important factor in spiritual growth, says Reverend Carrera. If you think about it, you’ll probably agree. We need to respond to the universe, but we also need to encounter the right teachers, influences, and experiences to grow spiritually.
While there are many things we can’t control (that is, many obstacles to enlightenment), we can consciously create an environment that helps us stay devoted to our yoga practice. For example, we can decorate our homes accordingly, choose what we watch on TV or read, and even set up an altar or dedicated practice space in our homes.
The company we keep influences the pace of our spiritual development too. Spending time with other yogis, avoiding people who are overly negative, and practicing karma yoga are all aids to removing obstacles.
Of course, being a yogi does not mean we have to reject the world. We need to live on this planet with our feet on the ground. The point is not to let distractions take us too far off course.
The good new is if you’re a yogi—that is, if you’re a spiritual seeker—you cannot stray far. You’ll always be called back. If you keep practicing, even when it seems pointless, you won’t get lost. Even if you do stop practicing for a while, don’t worry. You probably won’t stay away for long!