Skip to content



The One & The Same “Yoga : Indian Psychology”… Postures to Mindfulness

Jun 21, 2018

By : Dr. Richa Chopra, Ph.D (Psychology) is a Senior Art of Living International Yoga Faculty. She also is the Director of Academic Quality Development Cell & Chief Student’s Counsellor of Vivechana-The Counselling Space at Sri Sri University, Odisha.

For decades together, ‘My Mind’ alone seemed ‘Real’! I had, by default (thanks to the “so called normal societal conditioning”) almost auto-fitted, My Seemingly, “Real Self”; as the Operator of My Life, seating itself within the limited peripheries of “My Mind”!!
Innumerable roles were played at the “Outer”, driven by the “Inner”! Daughter-hood, Student-ship, Employer, Employee, Spouse….
Peripheral successes here & there going by the world parameters, cocooned amidst transient bouts of happiness that each time would eventually diminish; re-manifesting its appearances in jaundiced states.
I had started to feel tired, very tired! Nothing in the Outer made any Sense. Trained in Western Psychology, made serious efforts to question & annihilate my much believed “Real Self”. This supposedly “Real Self” was projecting onto everything in my Outer. My Mind Trying to handle Myself! A Child of Five Trying to handle another Child of Five! That had become my Condition.
Life has started to pose excruciating challenges that nature had no other choice but to carry me in her lap and gently dropping me by the sides of a beautiful shore – The Shore of Ancient Wisdom.
Amidst the mishaps and repeated failures, a parallel, undaunted inner voice had begun to reign within! Constantly speaking with myself. It was not the Voice of my Mind! A louder Voice that made much sense amidst the incessant chatter. The Voice that seemed Wise, Patient, Righteous. The Voice that Seemed to have eternally been witnessing My Own Mind, My Body and everything in My Outer. I was living in one body, with two Voices! The Wisdom from the Shore had started to illumine the darkness within. This Shore was called “Yoga ~ the Realm of Indian Psychology.
Experiencing “Yoga”, did not literally imply to the darshana (the philosophical school) or limiting myself to any of its many specialized schools – hatha yoga or raja yoga etc. It was all about Culturing’ of my Mind from the ‘Perspective’ of My True Self. It was dropping the much believed “Pseudo Real Self alias My Mind” & transcending the limiting peripheries of my World Within”! The Journey to this penultimate education had started to begun! The Syllabi pertained to Understanding The Mind, Its Crooks & its Strengths; Its Characteristics, The Techniques that Could Cool and Settle the Mind…
Indian psychology or Yoga is based on ideas and practices that developed over thousands of years within the Indian sub-continent having its unique conceptual framework, methods of enquiry, and the technology of consciousness that it uses to bring about psychological change and transformation. The most fundamental reality being the spirit; the indivisible unity of ‘Saccidānanda’, of absolute existence, consciousness and delight.
Yoga embraces psychological phenomena like consciousness and joy as core-elements of reality, and ‘knowledge of the True Self’ (Adhyātma-Vidyā) as the fundamental science. The physical and social factors are accepted but not viewed in its totality—events are thought to be influenced by a wide variety of forces that include factors belonging to non-physical realities. Similarly, a rational mind is appreciated and cultivated, but it is understood that there are higher sources of knowledge and possibilities of direct, intuitive apprehension of truth. Objective, sense-based knowledge is considered a minor form of knowledge (ignorance; Avidya) and there are processes that can make us more open to the subtle worlds, and especially to the pre-existing inner knowledge; Vidya
In the Yog Sutras of Patanjali, the undisputed authority on Rajayoga, only one or two of its many Slokas deals with Asanas (yogic postures). Likewise the Bhagavad Gita hardly mentions strongly structured practices at all.
Yoga through the sacred texts is all about grooming oneself towards desirable inner attitudes and gestures.
Yoga deals with most areas in which mainstream psychology is interested, and in many of them it has something unique to add. In the structure of the personality, there is the ‘Ahamkara’ which stands somewhere in between the Western concepts of ego and self-concept.
Similarly, below the surface of our waking consciousness not only exists the dark ‘unconscious states’ that modern psychology has explored, but there also exist a whole range of subtle ‘Kosas’ or layers of consciousness, having their own characteristic nature. And these have specific influences on the surface personality. Connecting with our deeper levels with sufficient Yogic Practices, enable levels of freedom, peace, joy, compassion, and understanding much beyond what is possible in the ordinary waking states.
In the field of cognition, ‘Pramana’ refers to the theoretical understanding of ordinary, sense-based knowledge that produce events. And beyond this also exists the detailed understanding of intuition, inspiration, revelation, and various other types of ‘intuitive knowledge’ undertaken by various schools of the Indian tradition.
On the aspects of emotion and motivation in mainstream psychology, it is generally presumed that happiness is dependent on the satisfaction of individual needs and desires. According to the Yogic Philosophy, delight is inherent in existence, even though it can be clouded in humans by their ‘ignorance’ (Avidya). In other words, suffering is attributed to ego-bound deformations and limitations of the over-individualized human consciousness. Seen from this angle, the satisfaction of desires may give temporary relief, but the road to lasting and unconditional happiness and wisdom runs through detachment from the ego, and a rediscovery of one’s knowledge for love and oneness with the ultimate reality.
The Psychology of Yoga is built on self-knowledge, the demand for self-work, for understanding and mastering one’s own self.
Yoga has opened the gateways of true happiness and liberation not just for me but for thousands world – wide. It is a Journey much beyond Postures, embracing the entire human Consciousness in totality.
Happy International Day of Yoga 2018.