Yoga and Western Psychology

1 Answer
Mukesh Kumar

When one explores the enormous field of yoga, one finds that the physical practices we typically associate with it are only one facet of a well-developed philosophy that offers a psychological perspective on the human being. When we look at yoga from a broader angle, we find that many of the objectives of contemporary psychology are complementary to those of yoga.

Answer Image

Psychotherapy and Yoga

Many of the goals of psychotherapy and yoga practice are similar, including increasing health and bringing about cognitive, behavioral, and emotional transformation. They encourage reflection, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and connection to achieve these goals. Experience is the foundation of all knowledge; this is the main similarity between yoga and psychotherapy. Therapists do not give their patients answers and prescriptions; instead, they assist them in examining their feelings so they may connect with long-suppressed emotions. According to the instructors of the science of yoga, religion is not solely dependent on past experiences; a person cannot be religious until he or she has these perceptions for themselves. The science of yoga shows us how to achieve these perceptions.

Mind, According to Yoga

The term "Chitta" is used by Patanjali when referring to the mental faculty as an entity that contains much more than what depth psychologists refer to as "unconscious," "subconscious," or "conscious ego" and also serves as a link between all of these and the "superconscious core the Purusha." Purusha is the eternal master of Chitta. Chitta vrittis, like waves on a lake, are the waves or angularities that occur in the "Chitta." As we perceive these disruptions or waves, the conscious world creates them. There are various vrittis associated with thinking, feeling, memory, and conduct. Patanjali further describes "Chitta" states as "Chitta bhumis," which are equivalent to different mental states. (a) Kshipta; (b) Mudha; (c) Viskhipta; (d) Ekagra; and (e) Niruddha are the five states of Chitta bhumis. There is a hierarchy, and achieving Niruddha is necessary to enter the state of super consciousness. Most of us, the common people, continue to exist in the first three states, further deepening our connection to the phenomenal world.

Answer Image

Yoga Therapy

Yoga practices are among the most significant and successful self-help techniques currently available to humans, according to Indian tradition, science, and clinical experience. It would seem that yoga would be a viable choice for Indian psychotherapists who have been searching for a conceptual framework and a set of methods that are not foreign but familiar to the Indian psyche. The value of yoga is being recognized in the west as psychologists compare various systems to identify significant solutions to some of life's issues. In the field of yoga, we are near behavior technology and self-reliance

The Yoga Boom in Western Society

Yoga as an Eastern movement has grown in popularity in the West over the past several decades. It is believed that 14.9 million Americans and 500,000 Britons participate in this activity in some capacity. This should not be shocking, considering that yoga is now widely accessible, with classes provided everywhere, from yoga studios to shopping centers. The spread of this Eastern technique into genuine sociocultural Western settings, such as corporations, hospitals, and schools, is perhaps even more astounding.

The end of the 20th century also saw the emergence of yoga as a multimillion-dollar commercial enterprise, with postures, sequences, and styles being copyrighted by businesses and used to promote various goods, from yogurt to cell phones. In fact, according to recent research, Americans who practice yoga spend up to 5.7 billion dollars annually on retreats, goods, and programs. Campbell made the following hypothesis in response to these observations: Paradoxically, it is likely that the West is moving away from its historical origins and adopting an Eastern perspective, just as the rest of the world seems determined to emulate the Western way of life.

Particularly, the Western adaptation of this Eastern practice strongly emphasizes yoga's bodily manifestations. In support of this idea, Singleton asserts that asana-focused yoga sessions are widely available in virtually all Western cities and that yoga in Western culture is synonymous with the practice of asana (posture). This assertion is supported by the fact that yoga appears to be practiced in most British contexts as a component of a physical fitness regimen, with the awareness that asana enhances flexibility and strength. In the UK's 2002 General Household Survey, for instance, yoga was categorized as a stay-fit lifestyle practice, alongside dance exercise and aerobics; this category of leisure activities was regarded as third most popular and most consistently practiced, behind walking and swimming. The British Wheel of Yoga's approval by the UK Sports Council further exemplifies the physically demanding character of Western yoga practice.

Others are drawn to this postural yoga because it offers effective physical therapy to cure diseases, injuries, and other restorative ailments. However, some practitioners view asana as an alternate form of exercise. Promo pamphlets issued by neighborhood clubs frequently affirm these notions by stating that yoga may be useful to rectify muscular-skeletal imbalances, strengthen core strength and flexibility, improve breathing patterns, relieve stress and tension, and promote energy and vitality. Clinical investigations have sought to quantify yoga's efficacy in treating a wide range of psychological and physiological disorders, ranging from rehabilitating juvenile criminals to easing back pain, to evaluate such body-mind transformative concepts.

Although this study has helped clarify the efficacy of yoga as a therapeutic intervention and physical fitness method, it has constrained the concept of this Eastern discipline to a certain set of postures and motions. This makes it possible to consider yoga as a form of physical treatment. However, contend that yoga was primarily practiced historically to promote long-term spiritual and physical welfare rather than to treat specific illnesses.

Difference between Yoga and Western Psychology

Western psychology contends that a combination of life experiences, stress, genetic predispositions, and cognitive and behavioral patterns are to blame for our problems. In contrast, yoga philosophy contends that our problems result from erroneous identification with what we experience, ignorance of our actual nature, and detachment (which results in discontent and suffering). Yoga psychology focuses on the transformation of the individual to transcend reality, achieve enlightenment, and with the entire individual - body, mind, and spirit. Modern psychology focuses on treating neurotic and unfavorable personality traits as well as the normal functioning of the average person. The methodologies are different as well. Modern psychology relies on external experimentation; yoga uses introspection through meditation.

The aim of contemporary psychology is objectivity. Subjectivity, a spiritual journey of inner transformation, lies at the heart of yogic understanding. Traditional yoga aims to help people discover their true selves, separate from their conditioning. Yoga aims to recognize that the transcendental Self has always existed free from the body-mind.

Answer Image


The fundamental tenet of yoga treatment is that it appears to restore balance throughout the entire organism. However, it has yet to be determined precisely how this is done. However, yoga therapy will be appropriately acknowledged as a legitimate type of treatment if rigorous inquiry along scientific lines has been set up in various locations throughout the world. Yoga therapy has already had its doors knocked on and opened. Only intense study and therapeutic endeavors by scientists and clinicians can perfect the centuries-old yoga practice and make it more and more honed and accessible to people everywhere.

Related Questions
Top Writers