As we know well on the Soul Sanctuary, yoga is a holistic practice that aims to bring balance and harmony to the mind, body and spirit. Not commonly talked about, but one of the key principles of yoga is the concept of the Kleshas.
The concept of the five kleshas comes from the ancient Indian philosophy of Samkhya, which dates back to the 3rd or 4th century BC. Samkhya philosophy holds that the universe is composed of two primary elements: Purusha, the pure consciousness or self, and Prakriti, the material world.
According to Samkhya, the kleshas are the result of the interaction between Purusha and Prakriti and are considered to be the root cause of human suffering.
The kleshas are seen as obstacles that prevent us from realising our true nature and experiencing a state of inner peace and contentment. The practice of yoga is seen as a way to overcome the kleshas and to awaken to our true nature as pure consciousness.
THE FIRST KLESHA:
Avidya - Ignorance
Avidya is the first klesha and refers to ignorance or the lack of awareness of our true nature. This lack of awareness can lead to confusion, misunderstanding, feeling misaligned and suffering.
In a yoga practice, the first step is to become aware of our own limitations, how the mind might be holding us back and to recognise the true state of our mind and body. Through the practice of self-reflection and meditation, we can begin to uncover our own true nature and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
THE SECOND KLESHA:
Asmita - Ego
Asmita is the second klesha and refers to the identification with the ego or the false sense of self. This identification with the ego can lead to feelings of superiority, inferiority, or attachment to our own identity.
Through yoga, the goal is to cultivate a sense of humility and to become aware that we are all part of a greater purpose. Through the practice of asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation, we can begin to observe the ego and connect with our true selves. The ego isn't all bad though, it can help with many parts of modern life, if we know how to work healthily with it
THE THIRD KLESHA:
Raga - Attachment
Raga is the third klesha and pertains to attachment. It involves being drawn towards things that give personal satisfaction, such as craving for material possessions or holding onto limiting beliefs. This attachment can lead to feelings of greed, jealousy, or a sense of lack. There is nothing wrong with having desires, but often they are mindlessly taken or acted upon, which gives us less time for being present in the true self.
The goal is to cultivate a sense of contentment and to understand that true happiness comes from within. Through the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection, we can begin to let go of attachments and seek fulfilment in the present moment.
THE FOURTH KLESHA:
Dvesha - Aversion
Dvesha is the fourth klesha and refers to the aversion or avoidance of pain or discomfort. Dvesha is also where we find ourselves in a place of judgement with the self and others around us. This aversion can lead to feelings of anger, fear or anxiety.
Having a consistent yoga practice will help to cultivate a sense of tranquillity and recognise that all experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, are part of the human experience. Through the practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation, we can learn to be present with our experiences and develop a sense of resilience in the face of challenges.
THE FIFTH KLESHA:
Abhinivesha - Fear of Death
Abhinivesha is the fifth klesha and refers to the fear of death or the attachment to the physical body. This attachment can lead to feelings of anxiety, insecurity, or a sense of mortality. In more recent times, it has been referred to as fear in general, as this is what holds us back so often.
Our true nature is beyond the physical body and is beyond our thoughts and limiting beliefs. It is with the practice of meditation and self-reflection that we can begin to let go of the fear and find peace in the present moment.
By having a consistent yoga practice, both and off the mat and educating ourselves further about the philosophy of yoga, we can become aware of how the Kleshas, the obstacles that prevent us from experiencing a state of peace, harmony and joy, have an impact on our daily lives. We can achieve balance and harmony in our lives by cultivating traits such as awareness, humility, contentment, steadiness and non attachment.
Flow through yoga practices dedicated to The Kleshas on the Soul Sanctuary membership today.