I.22 मृदुमध्याधिमात्रत्वात्ततोऽपि विशेष:

mṛdu-madhyādhimātratvāt tato ‘pi viśeṣaḥ
mṛdu-madhya-adhimātratvāt tataḥ api viśeṣaḥ

“And there will still be a uniqueness, based on each person’s tendency toward gentleness, moderation, or extremity.”

Patañjali continues to reflect on qualities of practice and on the nature of progress. When does the goal feel near or far? How does my individual temperament affect that?

In commentaries on this sūtra, there is often mention of “levels” of practitioners. This gives me pause. Does the spiritual path–and yoga–have levels? Is it hierarchical? Is Patañjali saying the quicker the better, or that more intensity is superior to less, that the more committed practitioner will make superior progress? I have chosen to translate this sūtra as a statement of difference and variety. There are many paths, and there are many types of practitioner, as many as there are individuals. I do not control my circumstances–not the circumstances outside of me nor those within. Practice, as I understand it, involves adapting to the circumstances that each day brings.

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all.  Ecclesiates 9.11


“Motivation and action vary according to temperament. Gentle people are slow to start, level-headed, and thoughtful. They are like the tortoise in the fable. Lively people are impetuous and rapid. They hurtle into action, sometimes with great vivacity, like the hare. Moderate types have an intermediate temperament, at times gentle, at times vivacious.” –Bernard Bouanchaud, The Essence of Yoga, p. 31

• Do you consider patience a value in your practice? Gentleness? Moderation? Have you had experiences that have shifted your views on this?
• What are ways that feelings of competition come up for you–in practice, at work, in personal relationships?
• Do you tend to compare yourself to other practitioners?
• Are you judgmental of the practice of others? Of yourself?


adjective in compound

soft, gentle, mild (from mṛd, “to rub”)


adjective in compound

middle, moderate


neuter noun, 5th case singular,”due to”

the state of being extreme (from adhi, which adds intensity, + mātra, “measure,” + –tva, suffix that creates abstract noun)








masculine noun, 1st case singular

difference, individuality (from vi-, “separate,” + śiṣ, “to remain”)

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