Yoga Sutra - Samādhi Pada 1.22
मृदुमध्याधिमात्रत्वात्ततोऽपि विशेषः ॥२२॥
mṛdu-madhya-adhimātratvāt-tataḥ api viśeṣaḥ ||22||
Hence the distinctions of mild, moderate, and ardent.
Even among these, there is further differentiation [of this intensity into degrees of] mild, mediocre, and extreme.
As noted above, each of the three levels identified by the commentators is subdivided; thus there is mild, mrdot;du, intensity of application to the requirements of yoga, mediocre, madhya, intensity to these requirements, and extreme, adhimātra, intensity. Likewise, there are the same three degrees of mediocre application (intense or above-average mediocrity, middling or average mediocrity, and mild or below-average mediocrity) and the same triad of possibility for mild application. In other words, there is a spectrum of application in yoga practice, and, expectedly, the speed of success depends on the degree of commitment.
Śaṅkara says the purpose of this sūtra is to fortify the enthusiasm of the practitioner. By learning that all yogīs, whether slow or swift in their application, eventually attain the goal, practitioners are encouraged and those who have become despondent due to fatigue from excessive effort regain confidence. But that there are gradations in the attainment of the goal of yoga, he says, is just as in the world, where, in a race, the prize goes to the person who runs the fastest!
Chapple (1994), who considers Patañjali’s text to be a concatenation of summaries of yoga texts extant in his day, suggests that Vyāsa tends to comment on sūtras individually, in isolation, and sometimes misses or neglects groupings or units. Chapple argues that such is the case here: Vyāsa has overlooked the possibility that Patañjali intended this sūtra to qualify the three previous sūtras. The word tataḥ, consequently, in this sūtra suggests its connection with these preceding sūtras. Given that there are three qualitative degrees mentioned in this sūtra, and the three previous sūtras can be read as three progressively advancing states of attainment, he connects the three degrees of application mentioned here with sūtras I.19–22. Thus, the mild of this sūtra should be taken as describing those merged in prakṛti in I.19; the mediocre, as referring to those practicing faith, etc., described in sūtra I.20; and the ardent, as those mentioned in the previous sūtra who are near to the goal.