Success and failure in Yoga are they under my control? (An imaginary conversation)

Q: Hi there!

A: Namaste. Welcome to a discussion on factors of success and failure in Yoga.


Q: Why do you think we need to discuss Success and Failure in Yoga?

A: Knowledge of factors of success and failure in Yoga will help aspiring yogis to have a systematic start to their yoga journey. For practitioners, awareness of these concepts and regular reflection on these will give an opportunity to have a quick status check.


Q: How do you define success or failure in Yoga?

A: From my understanding, in todays context - Ability to progress towards healing (oneself and/or helping others in healing) and ability to lead everyday life steadily being minimally influenced by the ups and downs that it throws up, itself is success in Yoga. And failure is the contrary.

I am sure that each and every practitioner will have such specific goals in undertaking yoga journey.


Q: Now, what is the source of your inputs on success and failure of Yoga?

A: This is from Hathayogapradipika Chapter 1 verses 15 and 16 and also the Sanskrit commentary to it. In my brief Yoga journey of a decade, I have seen these factors having great impact.

Now, What do you want to hear first? Factors for success or failure?


Q: Start from factors for failure, later we can go to success, because, as I understand, if we are careful enough to avoid factors for failure, we cannot fail. After that, I feel the factors of success will only stabilize and strengthen progress to our destination.

A: Great. Thats a very well-grounded approach.

Here you go. The six factors of failure in Yoga are over eating (atyaahara), exertion (prayaasa), over-talking (prajalpa), obsession with unsuitable observances (niyamagraha), company of people (janasanga) and fickleness/distractions (laulya).


Q: Do you have any additional inputs from the Sanskrit commentaries on this?

A: Of course. Brahmaananda the commentator to Hathayogapradipika adds the following -

  • Overeating refers to eating even after hunger is satiated (that means, to avoid over-eating one should be being mindful while eating, to exactly know when hunger is satiated in the process of eating and say enough).
  • Exertion means activities that lead to physical exhaustion. Will a physically exhausted person, have the energy to do Yoga?
  • Need I talk more on over-talking? :-)
  • Unsuitable observances include waking up very early in the morning (not allowing the body to have appropriate rest), taking cold water bath (this might lead to nose blocks etc., and hamper pra?ayama) and eating only fruits or eating only at night and so on (denying the body adequate energy and nutrients).
  • Company of people may create desire etc., and hence to be avoided.
  • And fickleness/distractions .

Hello! Where have you drifted off, are you listening?

Q: Sorry. As you were speaking about company and people, Just got distracted by thoughts about the phone calls that I need to make today to people connected to the company in which I work..

Coming back. Wow! Thats really cool and practical set of points that you have just listed. Now tell me the factors for success in Yoga.

A: Ha Ha! Hope you will be able to stay focused till end.

The six success factors are Enthusiasm(utsaaha), boldness/Daring (saahasa), fighting spirit (dhairya), knowledge of principles (tattvajnaana), Faith(nischaya), shunning peoples company(janasangaparityaaga).

The commentator, Brahmaananda adds these thoughts on the terms -

  • Enthusiasm refers to the resoluteness in the effort to channelize the mind towards worthy goals of Yoga.
  • Boldness/Daring refers to not obsessively keep worrying about the possibility or impossibility of achieving the goal or practices of Yoga. Take an informed decision and simply plunge into action.
  • Fighting spirit refers to take failures, slippages in the yoga journey in stride and forging ahead.
  • Knowledge of principles refers to knowing the ultimate Yogic principle the pure consciousness or having clear knowledge/dos and donts about the practices of Yoga.
  • Faith refers to firm belief in the texts of Yoga and the words of the teacher.
  • Shunning peoples company refers to shunning that company with people which will be detrimental to progress in Yoga. Are you still here.


Q: I am all ears. These Sanskrit texts, do they not leave anything to imagination. Such clarity and practicability.

A: I am glad that you see this now. Let me ask you a question - Now in these two sets of six factors of success and failure in Yoga, which are the repeated and closely resembling teachings?


Q: Hmmm Company of people (my favorite) am I right?

A: Perfect. In both the lists you find it. Connecting and disconnecting this is the mantra in Yoga.

Connecting with right people, teachers and friends will strengthen Yoga practice/Abhyasa. Decoupling from company that will derail is also essential/Vairagya.


Q: Finally, These are very interesting inputs from Sanskrit sources on success and failure in Yoga . What do you want to add about the role of knowledge of Sanskrit in the field of Yoga?

A: I can say this much Learn Yoga through Sanskrit or add Sanskrit in your Yoga journey and be empowered. Progressively free yourself from the fetters of translations. Reach authentic Yogic knowledge directly from the source.

And by the way, do not stop with learning. Success in Yoga is only by action and not merely by learning alone so says Svaatmaraama Yogindra (1500 CE) in Hathayogapradipika (1.65).

Cheers. Bye for now.


DISCLAIMER: The Views and opinions presented in the article solely reflect the views of the author and contributors of the articles.