Yoga and Psychology 3

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Maslow’s Hierachy of needs and yoga

 In the following pages I am going to discuss an example of how yoga can be blended with psychology in understanding human beings and aiding better quality of life without any psychological ailments.

MaslowPicture courtesy: Wikipedia

From the illustration one can see that the simple physical needs take up our attention. As we achieve this we move up the pyramid to the next level of needs.  In the attempt to achieve better and better things in live or the higher order of needs, the human builds up stress. Despite striving to accomplish the goals of life if the person is denied the specific need, it results in high mental, physical and emotional stress. My first contention is that of people dicover yoga at the earlier stages of their quest  by their earlier twenties then their quest will be more calmer, focused and successful.   My second contention is that if one looks closely at the highest level of needs , it is very similar to the state of mind that can be obtained by prolonged practice of yoga. At this level one does not desire worldly belongings but the pleasure of doing the work simply because it give the person great fulfilment.  At this stage there is more creativity, less prejudice and a calm acceptance of facts. In a way t eh famous artists like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci or Shakes had achieve these states of mind. But these are great people blessed with extraordinary talent. What about the average person? How can he or she achieve this state of mind? The answer is yoga. It costs nothing and gives you everything.

If we look at the discussions so far one can see a definite impact of yoga in the psychology of a person. The two fields are interconnected and both strive to grant the human being a better mental state.  Yoga helps the individual to

  1. Reduce stress levels thereby making him or her calmer
  2. Reduction of anxiety and depression
  3. Improvement of memory and concentration
  4. Prevents mental disorders caused by depression
  5. Helps individuals deal with trauma from life events.

Today there is a lot of research going on all over the world on the impact of yoga on mental illnesses like schizophrenia, neuroticism, Obsessive compulsive disorders and autism.  Yoga has been introduced into the curriculum of schools and colleges. This way students will have access to the benefits of the practice early in life. Yoga has played a large role in shaping the culture of India. However, one should not confuse yoga with religion. Yoga gives an individual spirituality that is self-realizations. It should not be used to propagate certain religions. That is not what yoga teaches. That is not what Swami Ramakrishna or Vivekananda propagate.

In conclusion, Yoga can be used to prevent the development of Psychological disorders in the complex world of today where even school children experience high levels of stress in the competitive nature of today’s education. The nurturing element  has almost disappeared from today’s education.

“Yoga may serve a preventive role in adolescent mental health,” according to the new study, led by Jessica Noggle, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Quoting a study from the same website

“Pilot Study Shows Improvements in Some Psychosocial Outcomes Fifty-one 11th- and 12th-grade students registered for physical education (PE) at a Massachusetts high school were randomly assigned to yoga or regular PE classes. (Two-thirds were assigned to yoga.) Based on Kripalu yoga, the classes consisted of physical yoga postures together with breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation. Students in the comparison group received regular PE classes.

Students completed a battery of psychosocial tests before and after the ten-week yoga program. In addition to tests of mood and tension/anxiety, both groups completed tests assessing the development of self-regulatory skills — such as resilience, control of anger expression, and mindfulness — thought to protect against the development of mental health problems.” –Science Daily


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