You may have come across this saying many times that “Yoga is a way of life, not just one of the tools of a healthy body and mind.” If one deciphers these Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a modern perspective, we will find that the philosophy of life in Yoga Sutras stands to the test of time even today. The stress factor takes the credit for being the most common complaint nowadays and also the root cause of the majority of our lifestyle disorders and diseases. The “stress phenomenon” is one of the highlights of our modern world.  One will be surprised to see the reasons for stress/suffering in the 2000 years old Yoga manual, “Yoga Sutras.” The factors that may cause miseries are defined as the kleshas in sutra.

Reasons of Sufferings

The Sanskrit term klesha means mental infirmities or destructive thoughts/feelings. Kleshas work as the roadblocks in our progress.  They damage our ability to perceive things in the right light. The picture presented through the eyes of kleshas is always camouflaged one. If our decisions, reactions, actions are based on this false understanding; it is going to invite more  nuisances than solutions. Stress is the outcome of our destructive and passive thoughts along with vulnerable emotions. If we understand what exactly is making us feel terrible, then fixing it becomes easier. 

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra traces the five kleshas as the major factors of our traumatic lives—Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (false ego), Raga (clinging or attachments), Dwesha (hatred, Dislikes) and Abhinivesh (fear, fear for death).

Kleshas work as the roadblocks in our progress.  They damage our ability to perceive things in the right light.

Avidya means not the absence of education or illiteracy. When we understand and perceive things or people in a different way than the actual one–that’s called ignorance. When we don’t have the true knowledge of the situations or people, we are likely to travel in the wrong direction. One may feel bad when someone close doesn’t connect for a long time. But considering it as that person has chosen to ignore you deliberately is nothing but ignorance from your side. Reaching to conclusion without understanding the other side of the story creates the incorrect picture and misunderstanding. How will that person come to see us if he is badly sick or he has lost some dear one or going through a rough patch in his life? Instead of exploring the other side of the story, we choose to focus on the convenient facts. Our mind registers these events or people as the painful memories. And we keep on experiencing the same pain when we recollect those memories from time to time.

Reaching to conclusion without understanding the other side of the story creates the incorrect picture.

When we start identifying ourselves with external things, events and people; then our reactions towards them are highly influenced by our ego. These outward things can be our professional success, position, physical beauty, property or money. If you consider yourself superior to others due to these possessions, then this is nothing but false ego (Asmita). There is a thin line between self-esteem and ego. Self-esteem is when no matter what others hold opinion for you, you are sure of self-worth and will not give a damn to baseless critics.

If you consider yourself superior to others due to these possessions, then this is nothing but false ego (Asmita)

This “raga” doesn’t have any relationship with the world in the popular bollywood song “mala raag yetoy”. Raga in this song associates with anger whilst Raga in yoga sutra means clinging or attachment. When we are too attached with some people or material possessions or positions, we are bound to lead a life which involves show off—one can be distorted inside but he will show to the world that “I am living my best life”.  Most of us spend our life for the better future of kids and the well-being of family. But when loved ones throw us out of their lives, we just stop living life fully. The bliss in life gets replaced by misery. Allowing yourself to remain in the state of despair for life long is the biggest crime we can commit towards self.

Dwesha can invite more sufferings to you. The jealousy pops in when we see someone more successful or doing better in the areas where we couldn’t flourish. It actually create lots of negativity and stiffness in the body and mind. It is not always possible that you can turn your hatred into love or admiration. It is not practical to expect that we will never feel jealous. Controlling jealousy brings more irritation. The acceptance of that emotion is necessary before we work on it. Dwesha creates more toxins for the person who is jealous than the other one. Being compassionate to self would be helpful. Others stature should inspire one to achieve best for self. We can create our own fortune from learning from successful people and their stories.

A life with a complete absence of sufferings may be a distant dream but a life with more inner joy, peace and love can be a possibility.

Abhinivesh (fear) deters a man from taking any required action. The fear for failure, death, unknown future and negative outcome creates a fog around a person that doesn’t allow him to inch forward. Fear is very basic, natural and instinctive emotion. Getting rid from fears completely doesn’t hold any potentials for the humanity as it is our survival mechanism. Fear actually has helped the mankind to evolve from adi manava to homo sapiens. When fear paralyses the person’s overall wellbeing and stops him from taking any worthy decisions and actions, then saying goodbye to it is the best

Overcoming Kleshas

The 21st century kleshas appear in a changed format.  So dealing with those demands a fresh approach. You will find the following ideas simple and easy to execute.

Daily journal:

Remember that expressing your emotions in your journal can be a great outlet for stress relief, so try to write about your thoughts, hopes, fears, frustrations, and any other emotions you are experiencing. This is one of the tried and tested measures to turn off stress bulbs.  You don’t need to share this journal with anyone. Just be very honest and write down whatever you feel and think. It is advisable that one should do reflection prior to putting things in a journal. Sit quietly with your closed eyes for 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the day. Reflect through each event of that day. Don’t try to label the event or people involved in it good or bad. Just flip through your day and then open your eyes and start noting down things on paper.

Healing power of nature:

Spending some time with green friends can be an elevating experience. We are the part of nature.  Being in nature helps us to connect our true self. A walk in the garden can be more rewarding for your health than just walking on the street.

Cultivate active hobbies: Active hobbies can help remove that excessive stress from your life. Listening to music is passive.  Singing a tuneless song can be more therapeutic than listening to melody.  You can choose to listen and sing at the same time. Getting involved in activities like painting, craft, cooking, writing, gardening or playing musical instruments can be a soulful experience.

Reading some good paragraphs from your favorite drama or dialogues from movies loudly can melt your stress too.

Watching comedy movies/cartoons can definitely lighten up your moments.

A light conversation or even healthy gossip with a close pal can be therapeutic. Health and happiness enquiry phone calls with parents or grandparents can be super satisfying.

Abhyangam (herbs infused oil massage) can alleviate the stress from the body and mind. We give sneha (love) to the body through this massage.

Last but not least, the regular practice of yogasanas, pranayamas and mediation can offer you benefits at physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.