Kleshas are what the student observes that come up in practice. They are considered mental-emotional afflictions, obstructions and causes of suffering or Dukkha. Kleshas produce negative thoughts and emotions in the Citta or Heart-Mind (called in the Yoga Sutras Klista Vrttis), the roaming tendencies of the heart-mind and the outer expression of the Kleshas.
The 5 Kleshas are–
- Avidya – Ignorance, misapprehension, misunderstanding, lack of awareness, blind spots – about the real nature of all things. Without Avidya the others wouldn’t exists.
- Asmita – Egotism, thinking more or less of who your limited ego identifies as.
- Raga – Attachment to pleasure, craving, grasping, yearning and addictively chasing instant gratification.
- Devsa – Avoidance of pain, resistance, aversion, the way we disassociate from things that might bring us pain.
- Abinivesha – Fear of loss, change and death.
Kleshas become weaker or stronger as our behaviour plays out. Responding consciously – weakens the Kleshas. Reacting unconsciously – strengthens them. Every action performed creates an impression, we call this samskaras. That a memory will imprint our experience, if it is very uncomfortable and emotional it will imprint this as long term memory to keep us safe from it happening again. Our choices dealing with this experience will form habits called vasanas. This is habitual tendencies towards things that happen in our life. As you experienced in our sessions in the Rasas there is predictable ways you react to fear, anger, resentments and sadness. We are a sum total of everything we have gone through which means we have formed memories and habits.
Gandhi reduced a teaching so simply to see why we struggle. He was quoted in saying:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
As we practice Yoga we cultivate self-awareness, understanding and notice some of our choices, habits and memories that keep us stuck in limited beliefs. With that self-awareness comes the realisation that these choices and habits are not working for us anymore. We feel that we get stuck in a cycle of pain and suffering. We are paralysed with fear, avoidance, attachment, egotism and we feel confused by it all. These are the Kleshas.
To eliminate these inner Kleshas
- we must understand where they originate,
- how they were produced and
- what behaviour is reinforcing them to grow.
Kleshas are an ongoing part of our lives, They are a part of what it means to be alive. However, we practice to help us through them and explore them.
Second book of the Yoga Sutras (YS) is about Practice.
- YS 2.46 – To practice Asana we just need two things – Sthira and Sukham.
- YS 2.47 – How we master Asana is to create effort as you meditate on something specific, becoming effortless.
- Turning ones attention to YS 1.34 Breath Awareness,
- YS 1.35 Sensation,
- YS 1.36 Cultivate Light,
- YS 1.37 Contemplate a stable mind drawing to that desired stillness – Nirodha.
- YS 2.48 – as a result the pair of opposites cease to exist or have an impact and the state of Yoga is attained.
The Yoga Sutra tells us that the purpose of Kriya Yoga is to reduce the Kleshas
- Tapas – Practices that create heat for positive change
- Sva Dhyaya – Study of oneself
- Isvara Pranidhana – Surrendering over to the god head of your understanding
Join Zephyr in explore each Klesha in practice.