Olivia Hsu Decodes Sutra 2.12: Learn How the Kleshas Can Boost Self-Awareness

Once you begin to identify your obstacles through mindful yoga practice, you will be able to set better intentions and reset your karmic path.

“Obstacles (kleshas) are the breeding ground for tendencies (samskaras) that give rise to actions and the consequences (karma) thereof. Such obstacles are experienced as visible or invisible obstacles.” 
Yoga Sutra 2.12

This sutra asks you to take a close look at the kleshas (personal obstacles) that shape your intentions—and eventually your karma. It asks you to look at the driving force of your actions. The five kleshas are avidya (ignorance), asmita (over-identifying with your ego), raga (desire, or attachment to pleasure), dvesha (avoidance), and abhinivesha (attachment and fear). Once you begin to identify your kleshas through a mindful yoga practice, you’ll be able to set better intentions and reset your karmic path.

Find Your Truth

Your yoga practice can help you become more aware of your patterns—both physical and psychological. Notice where you hold tension, and pay attention to thoughts that keep emerging. I started practicing yoga during law school, and it helped me to understand that my choice to become a lawyer was driven by my kleshas (dvesha and abhinivesha). I had been rock climbing for a few years and loved it, but my fears kept me from thinking that it would ever be a feasible career. The more I practiced yoga, the more I knew that becoming a professional rock climber was part of my dharma, or life purpose. When you know what your priorities are, it can give you the strength to make life choices that are more true to you. 

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