The kleshas

The Kleshas-The 5 Hindrances on the path of Yoga

Klesha is the Sanskrit word for mental afflictions, corruptions or poisons. These 5 afflictions are:

-Ignorance [avidya]

-Egoism [asmita]

-Attachment [raga]

-Aversion [dvesa]

-Fear of death [abhinivesha]

Avidya is spiritual ignorance, misunderstanding and incorrect knowledge.It can be defined as the misconception of taking the non-eternal as eternal,the impure for the pure, evil as good, the non-self for the self and perceiving pain as happiness.

All these misconceptions arise due to how we perceive this world-through our senses.Avidya is the foremost of the 5 kleshas.It is the field from which the other afflictions arise.

Asmita is the erroneous identification of ourselves with our own ego.The belief of I-am-ness.It is the mistaken identification with the sense objects.

Raga is the attachment to the senses and their objects that bring pleasure.Liking/attraction leading to mindless actions trapping us in an endless cycle of search for feelings of happiness.

Dvesa are the aversions that keep us from achieving what we truly seek.Aversions stem from unpleasant memories and mental preferences.

Abhinivesha is the fear of death and the willingness to live.Its the ignorant clinging to life and the desire for continuity.It also can be understand as a fear of change.

We are all born with these afflictions and they are the root causes for all the pain,suffering and diseases in life.In order to free ourselves from these mental corruptions,we need to enter into a spiritual life and walk the path of yoga.

We may do intense physical asanas,practice pranayama or prolonged meditations but the power of the kleshas will diminish all our efforts over and over again and bring us back to the beginning.All our efforts on the spiritual path will be in vain if we do not work on the impurities in our personality.

The physical reality is called prakriti [nature].It is made up of the 3 gunas [qualities] sattvas,rajas,tamas [goodness,passion,dullness].They are in constant interaction and can create imbalances.Only the yogi will be able to get a grip on these fluctuations.

The yogi who has had the experience of merging his consciousness with the pure divine consciousness will become situated in his own essential nature,the self,the Purusha [spiritual consciousness].

This is the fundamental philosophical system of Samkhya Yoga.

The antidotes for a yogi to counteract the kleshas are tapas, kriyas, svadhyaaya and dhyana.The first stage is simply to acknowledge them for what they are.

After that, a yogi needs to practice austerities [tapas] of the physical body and mind in order to get hold over the senses and destroy the mental impurities.Svadhyaaya is the study of the self and the study of holy Hindu scriptures that will bring a shift towards the self, recognizing the self as divine consciousness.

Kriyas need to be practiced as tools to purify the body and mind.

The final and most powerful antidote to overcoming the kleshas is Ishvara Pranidhana, the most subtle level of devotional practice where the focus is placed on the worship of a higher power.This kind of dhyana [meditation] will eventually lead to the mastery of the senses and destroy the kleshas.


Spiritual essence of Yoga

Yoga is a diversified field wherein one can explore much more than just the physical well being. Though we all have heard of the benefits that yoga brings to our mental health the spiritual aspect of the Yoga is still unexplored. Individuals who make Yoga a part of their lives are simply seeking physical benefits on the superficial level. Not many know that Yoga is the stepping stone for the mystic world of spirituality which one can explore to infinity.

Yoga is a holistic approach to a happy living which helps in connecting with our inner core- the spiritual side of our lives. There is no direct path to spirituality; it has to be achieved step by step conquering the limitations of our mind and thoughts. Human beings are wired to worry about past and anticipate about future. This grips the mind causing unnecessary fear, aversion, craving, and desires. It is essential to bring the focus of mind to present which can be achieved with Yoga. Yoga helps in cleansing the body and mind from stress and negativity with help of pranayamas which calms the mind.

As quoted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-“The word Yoga means skill- skill to live your life, to manage your mind, to deal with your emotions, to be with people, to be in love and not let that love turn into hatred.” It is also to be noted that people associate differently with the term’ Spirituality’.



The essence of spirituality is different for each individual. Sylaja Kannan who is an IT professional from Bangalore, India shares-“For me, spirituality is all about living a happier life in the moment, responding to situations rather than reacting, de-programming and connecting with myself to come with a fresh response to situations that repeat. Yoga and meditation give me just that!” Yoga with meditation is an ethereal combination for which many vouch for!


Spirituality brings inner strength and the inner peace reflects in behavior. Spirituality helps in becoming a responsible person full of love, empathy, and sharing. For experiencing the wonders of spirituality on a deeper level, one needs to deepen the yoga practice as well. Spirituality is not about sitting at a place doing something each day. It is all about revisiting the truths about our inner self.


As quoted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-“The truth about us and our lives need to be updated. We need to revisit them and ask ourselves these questions again and again, ‘what do I want?’, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’, ‘Am I happy?’

The path to the ultimate enlightenment can be achieved by different types of Yoga which are as follows:



  1. Kundalini

One of the most revitalizing forms of the Yoga, Kundalini imbibes physical and spiritual practice both. The aim of Kundalini Yoga is to incorporate creative spiritual potential of a person by freeing kundalini i.e. serpent power which is located at the base of the spine.

  1. Jivamukti

The Jivamukti Yoga helps the individual in connecting to a different form- a place of happiness and joy. The main aim of Jivamukti yoga is to free the person from sense of detachment and bring the feeling of oneness. The core aspects of Jivamukti are Ahimsa, Nada, Dhyana, Bhakti and Shastra. Dynamic Vinyasa helps in incorporating these 5 elements.


Yoga teachers training in India can help in exploring the deeper levels of Yoga for embracing the spiritual world. While it may or may not be possible in a student training programme, the teachers training focus on deeper levels which can help an individual in more than one way.

Happy exploring!