According to hatha yoga there are six major factors which prevent yoga or union from occurring. In hatha yoga, union means uniting the two energy forces, mental and pranic, in the body. This is the energy flowing in the ida and pingala nadis. Hatha Yoga is the process of balancing the flow of these two alternating forces to bring perfect physical and mental equilibrium and wakening to sushumna and kundalini. All branches of yoga unite these two energies and channelize them through the sushumna. These three Nadis terminate in the Ajna Chakra or 3rd eye. The object of hatha yoga practice is the increase the duration and flow of sushumna and the period when both nostrils flow simultaneously so that a balance is created in the physical and mental functions. When the mind and body are not functioning in harmony, there is a division between the physical and mental rhythms, which inevitably leads to sickness. Thus, one must avoid all activities which waste energy or distract the mind. The six obstacles, that get in the way of yoga or union, are:
- Overeating: When the body is overloaded with food, it becomes sluggish and the mind becomes dull. Over a period of time toxins build up in the body. If the body is toxic and lethargic, how can one make progress? It is advised that the stomach should be half filled with food, one quarter with water and one quarter with air!
- Overexerting or Overstraining the body and mind: Hard physical labor or intese mental work taxes one of the energy systems and can create further imbalance between the two energies. The hatha yogi has to conserve and build up his store of energy for spiritual purposes.
- Too Much Talking & Being in the Company of Common people: This wastes time which could be better spent in awakening the inner awareness. Gossiping with people who have low morals and base consciousness cannot enlighten your soul, rather their negative vibrations may influence you. Social situations and irrelevant discussions distract the mind.
- Strict Adherence to Rules and Regulations: Although it is important to follow the instructions of a guru, as far as religious doctrines are concerned, it is unnecessary that they be maintained for spiritual progress. Adhering to rules makes one “narrow minded” and yoga is meant to expand the consciousness. A yogi’s mind should be flexible and able to adjust to circumstances.
- Unsteadiness/Wavering Mind: This means an imbalanced body metabolism, inability to hold one posture for a period of time, and a wavering mind. Yoga cannot be achieved under these conditions. When there is physical, mental, emotional, and psychic imbalance, the energy is dispersed, but if the energy is properly channelized, all the bodily systems become stable. If there is inconsistency and irregularity in lifestyle further imbalance in the body will ensue. An unswerving mind and steady body cultivate yoga.