Sutra II.33 "If troubled by perverse thoughts, there should be habituation to the contrary feelings."
The context in which I will discuss the technique of "Pratipakshabhavana" will be from the base line of the Yamas and Niyamas.
When an individual is finding that they are trying to practice the Yama's and Niyama's of the Ashtanga Yoga path as they begin their practice they are sure to come across thoughts and actions that may contradict or go against these five Yama's and the five Niyama's - Whether due to the fact that these opposite actions and thoughts are already existing within them or if they feel that something external is somehow forcing them to act against the first two Limbs of the Yogic path.
Any which way it happens its accurate to say that these thoughts will be there and from these thoughts actions of them can manifest.
When we are on the path of Yoga it is important to watch these perverse thoughts to ensure that firstly they do not manifest into action and secondly begin to catch the thoughts as they come into your mind. When you begin to establish yourself at catching the perverse thoughts when it happens you can spend a little time trying to cultivate thoughts of the opposite and soon find that you begin to minimise and eventually eliminate these perverse thoughts all together.
This practice is called Pratipaksha bhavana.
"Pratipaksha" meaning "contrary thoughts / principles"
"Bhavana" meaning "cultivate or contemplate on"
Without this technique the practitioner’s path will become even more difficult to progress on.
As many of us do, before taking up the practice of Yoga, we live our lives with lack of discipline and structure; we live almost selfishly, and many times carry out actions that we think we stand behind however cannot see that our thought processes are inaccurate. When Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutra's he was already aware of this and therefor created this technique to help the individual on this Yogic path.
When it comes to the Yama's we find that due to our desires and old habits we have a way of justifying to ourselves our actions when we give into desires and act in opposition to the Yama's.
The technique allows time and space and a continuous practice until the individual is habituated in right thought and right action which is for-filling the Yama's and Niyama's.
Being able to accomplish and be habitual in the Yama's and Niyama's has been described as learning to walk...
"We fall many times and get up and try again until walking becomes effortless."
Dr Jayadeva Yogendra
I began using this technique long before I knew of it as being the technique that it is.
It must have been around my late teen years that I began to reflect more on why I was thinking a certain way, why I would act a certain way to situations in my life and how I would react to the people around me.
It was here that I would spend time in contemplation and it was here that I discovered the benefits of opposite thought patterns when it came to my sometimes negative and inaccurate outlook.
When I first began to read the Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali and I came across Sutra II.33 I cried - it was so beautiful that I was already on the path of growth and deeper understanding before I even began my physical practice of Yoga or before I even knew what Yoga was and what a big part it would have to play in my life in the near future.