In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.3, he lists the 5 kleshas or obstacles which disturb the state of yoga. They are ignorance, ego, attachment, aversion, and fear of death. According to the sutras, ignorance or lack of knowledge is the root of the other 4 obstacles. These disturbances can be intellectual, instinctual, or emotional. Part of the purpose of our practice is to learn to identify the kleshas as they appear and develop the skills to weaken them. Over time they become dormant. In this way we can free ourselves from habitual patterns that continually cause us problems.
Actions such as discipline, study and dedication (from Sutra 2.1) give us a method for understanding and changing the habits which deter us from achieving our goals. My advice to my students is always to pick one thing that resonates with them and put their efforts into it. If you want longer hamstrings, you’ve got to do something to change them. If you want to get rid of the roadblocks to a steady mind it is also necessary to put forth some effort. The mind is like a garden, we plant and nurture the seeds we want to have grow in it but we also have to pull out the weeds. And, like weeding a garden, the efforts need to be sustained over time.