While obstacles are generally perceived to be outside of us, Patanjali explains in Sutras 1.30 and 1.31 that the only real obstacles lie within us. It’s much easier to look outside of ourselves and find problems with the people, places and things outside of us. Wouldn’t you prefer to find fault in another and avoid looking within? But until we honestly begin to look within and gently remove the weeds of separation (thoughts of doubt, anger, betrayal, jealousy, fear, attack, etc...) we each remain on a treadmill of disillusionment while constantly seeking yet never really finding.We think we advance through blame and projection, but in reality we are going nowhere.

The higher practice of yoga is the ongoing process of identifying the obstacles within and holding them to the light of truth. It is a process of realizing how destructive we can be to ourselves (and often to those around us). The ego identifies with problems and obstacles because they uphold a separate sense of self. Without them, “I” might disappear—but isn’t that the goal? Ask yourself, “Who would “I” be without my problems?”

As an ego, we need our problems, but the seed for a better way has already been planted. The healing unification of yoga is an inner journey of discovering that seed of Wholeness. It wants to grow and it will do so on its own. Nourish the process by identifying and removing the weeds.

This winter, do just as the season calls for and go within. Take the time to reflect and nourish your inner garden.