An Introduction to Yoga Psychology

One of the more beautifully developed sciences of spiritual-based psychology is yoga psychology, the study of human psyche in relation to life and the larger dimensions of existence. This science, matriculated from the ancient tradition of yoga, seeks to explain and explore the potentials of the human life, uncovering the hidden mysteries behind life’s purpose, existence, and relationship to the world in which we live. While there are many systems of psychology available to modern man, yoga psychology is unique in that is seeks to merge modern science with ancient philosophy. Through its distinct methods of treating and transforming the mind to its open and holistic approach to life, yoga psychology is an effective science for providing a healthy, balanced, and individually sensitive approach the mental health and wellness.

The Philosophy of Psychology

Generally, the philosophy of psychology has pursued two outlets. The first that suggests that life is empirical and can be measured and observed on a material level. This philosophy maintains that all system are composed of matter which can be seen through physical observation and observed through the senses. Therefore, everything that exists within the human being can be measured on a physical level accounts for all aspects of the human existence. One important point of this philosophical ideology is that everything is based off of experience, external input, and genetic disposition. These together form the entire foundation for the psyche. Therefore, elements that appear to extend beyond the confines of the physical and observable level of existence are either imagined or yet to be proven through empirical observation.

Contrary to the empirical belief is the philosophy that human beings are composed of elements that are beyond the confines of the physical structure of the human being. Although material components contribute to our existence, there are many features of the human being that cannot be measured with a microscope or electromagnetic scans. Although these features are not composed of the same material as the human body, they existence in their own dimension and retain their own qualities that allow them to exist. One of the primary examples of an element that exists in its own form is consciousness. Under the definition of the non-empirical philosophy, consciousness is a part of human life, but is not contained solely within the human being, nor can it be found within the structures of the brain. Rather it is a field of existence that permeates all of creation, but takes the appearance of separate entities when filtered through the structure of the individual entities such as a human being. Therefore it is part of the human being, but not limited to the human structure in and of itself.

For the most part, empirical based psychology believes that consciousness is a component of the brain, and a spirit, or some entity that is connected to a higher source, does not exist. All that is experienced and seen within the individual can be explained within the physical content of the human being. Therefore, the pursuit of understanding and comprehension of the functions of the human psyche are mostly undertaken within the study of brain through the sciences such as neuropsychology. This forms the foundation for the more extended studies of behavioral, developmental, and cognitive psychology.

Non-empirical psychology, on the other hand, accepts the soul, or something existing with the human being that extends beyond the limits of the perishable body, as an additional entity contributing to the human existence. While the human body contains part of the material necessary to form life, it does not make up the whole system. Non empirical psychology maintains the belief that individual consciousness is a component of a large system that has been referred to as cosmic, universal, or collective consciousness. With this understanding in mind, non-empirical psychology pursues the study of the human psyche through the components of consciousness, soul/spirit, and other elements beyond the physical body.

While not every psychology conforms to these boundaries, most of the applied practices of psychology conform themselves to the outline of one of these ideology; either the mind is in the body and the brain, or it is part of something larger and beyond the limits of the body. As a social practice, western psychology usually follows the path of the empirical study where as eastern psychology has been that of the metaphysical and spiritualistic. Yet there are modern schools of thought, researchers and psychologists that are extending beyond these boundaries and seeking to reform psychology into a complete science of the human mind. Indeed, the human brain does show significant contributions to the functions of thought, perception, and behavior, but at the same time there has been no substantial evidence that self-awareness or consciousness can be contained within the functions of the brain. Together, both of these insights have proven to be significant challenges to the modern day research of the psychology of human beings.

Yoga Psychology, as a conventional practice, has evolved to embody both the empirical and non-empirical perspective of psychology. Although it could generally be considered a non-empirical philosophy, yoga psychology has also greatly accepted the influences of the anatomical structure in developing, shaping, and creating the psychology of a human being; yet the physical body does not contain all of the elements necessary to form the complexity of the human mind and consciousness. Through the philosophy and spiritual-inquisition of yoga, yoga psychology maintains the belief that the human psychology is shaped by factors from various sphere of life, starting from the most material physical body and working through to the subtle elements of the spirit. Each layer is not an independent system, nor is it contained within one single structure. Rather, there are several sheaths that co-exist and work seamlessly between one another to form the complete structure, form, and existence of the human being.

The Application of Psychology

Practically, psychology is designed to be applied as a functional means to provide people with a healthy mind. While the definition of what constitutes a health mind may vary between different philosophical beliefs, generally people want live a life that contains more happiness, a stronger self-concept, and a personality that is capable of handling the changes and evolving events in life. Psychology seeks to provide people with the tools necessary to create the proper circumstances for a health mind, using a variety of skills, perceptions, and methods to help form the desired results. Among some of the major components used by modern psychology to help people find a healthier mental construct include: medication, counseling, group therapy, psycho-analysis, environmental alterations, and mental conditioning. All of these methods seek to provide people with a stronger mental state with which they can approach life.

“Natural” forms of psychology usually avoid medication and evasive techniques that may cause unnecessary changes to the bio-chemical structure of the body. They also traditionally focus on approaching psychological complexes with a more holistic perspective which includes physical ailments and emotional disturbances. In contrast, a more “westernized” system of psychology usually treats patients based upon classified disorders or dysfunctions which are related to the mind or the brain. Treatment is provided based upon the symptoms of a patient in relationship to other classically defined cases. For many patients, medication is used in conjunction with counseling and therapy.

As a practice, yoga psychology usually addresses the psychological changes within a human being’s life with a wide variety of techniques, each designed to help regulate and modify a specific irregularity within the human system. Generally, yoga psychology follows the “natural” system of psychological healthcare as it typically treats each case independently, providing help to an individual after analysis of the physical, psychological, energetic, and spiritual elements of their life. For physical disturbances which are affecting the psychological state, exercise and movement known as the asanas (postures) are applied. These can also be used in conjunction with cleansing techniques which help to remove toxins from the body. For psychological disturbances, meditation, concentration, and self-observation are used. Generally, the body and the mind are viewed as interdependent entities, so specific physical activity or alterations can treat psychological disturbances as well. For energetic problems, breathing exercises are used to increase or decrease energy within the body. Diet can also be modified to help increase vitality. The health of the spiritual aspect of life is dependent on the state of the physical, mental, and energetic bodies, and therefore is typically cared for by treating these bodies first.

Although many systems of psychology exist, yoga psychology is one that can be applied for those who seek a better knowledge of themselves. While a belief in spiritual aspects of life will assist one who wishes to practice yoga psychology, it is not a necessity. Rather, yoga psychology should be viewed as a holistic system of psychology which works to create an equilibrium in the body and the mind so that optimum health and strength can be achieved. It also works to provide people with a greater understanding of life as the body, mind, and spirit are actively transformed to reach their fullest potentials.

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Sports Psychology: How To Win Your Next Competition: 31 Tips To Help You Perform Your Best

If you’re a sales person, a manager, an entrepreneur, a trial lawyer, a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, you frequently need an edge to perform to your fullest potential.

If you know how to get into the zone and stay there, you definitely will have the edge or advantage you need to win, beat your competition and perform to you fullest potential.

What Is The Zone?

In short, the zone is a state of relaxed concentration where there is no self-criticism. You are confident, relaxed, focused and living in the present. Furthermore, there is a sense of enjoyment, your actions seem automatic and easy and there is an increased belief that your dreams can become realities.

It is interesting to note that the zone parallels and matches a hypnotic state of mind.

Thirty One Tools You Need To Use Effectively To Stay In The Zone

The author has worked with thousands of world class athletes, young athletes and weekend warriors. He has evaluated and helped Olympic champions.

Below you will find a simple questionnaire and rating system that can athletes, coaches and parents of athletes to understand the elements which comprise the zone. Readers of this article will also understand what the common barriers are to getting into the zone.

Here are the questions.

Simply rate yourself from 1-10 on each of the questions.

You can use ratings from zero to ten and you can use decimal points. Ten is the highest rating you can get a zero is the lowest rating.

  1. How confident do you feel?
  2. How relaxed do you feel?
  3. How focused do you feel?
  4. How well have you been practicing?
  5. How resilient do you feel?
  6. How well do you sleep the night before a competition?
  7. Are your eating, sleeping and exercising patterns in balance with one another?
  8. How much fun do you have when you compete?
  9. Can you quiet self -criticism?
  10. Do you engage in positive self-talk?
  11. Are you able to tune out distractions?
  12. Are you able to stay in the present?
  13. Do you have pre-shot routines that you consistently use?
  14. Do you have a “Plan B,” if your “A Game” is not working?
  15. Do you follow and eating regime that makes sense for your body and your sport?
  16. Can you empty your mind and trust your athletic body?
  17. Can you quiet your mind to focus on just one thing?
  18. Are you injury free?
  19. Are you able to control any interpersonal problems or stressors?
  20. Do you use a simple mantra, phrase or tune to reset your mind and your body during before, during and after you compete?
  21. Do you know how to recover from a loss, setback or slump?
  22. For young athletes-How is your relationship with your parents?
  23. Have you seen yourself on video in the last ninety days?
  24. Are you grateful for your opportunity to master a sport or a skill?
  25. Do you have a technique to move from choking to the zone?
  26. Are you having fun competing and practicing?
  27. Do you set short and long term measurable goals and objectives?
  28. If you are a religious or spiritual person, do you use prayer as part of your training and as part of your pre-game routine?
  29. How well do you manage the highs and lows that are a part of any challenge?
  30. How is your relationship with your coaches, teammates and colleagues?
  31. Do you practice meditation, visualization, guided imagery or visualization prior to competing and when you practice?

“Ideally, I like to see athletes with scores of 8.5 on most of the above. Being eighty five per cent ready, is usually enough to produce fine performances. So, a perfect score on this test is about 263.5 If you get this score, there is a good chance that you are in a mental frame of mind that will allow you to perform well.

If you discover weaknesses that are causing you to lose matches and tournaments, you need to develop strategies and techniques to overcome these deficiencies.

It is hard to make these kinds of changes on your own. A sport psychologist, coach or mentor can often be quite helpful in building confidence, reducing anxiety, improving focus and in showing you how to enter the zone more often.

If your scores are very low, you can probably benefit from some counseling, mental toughness training or training in self-hypnosis.

Tattoos and Ego Psychology

So often people misjudge tattoos and self expression and fail to realize that those folks who like themselves and wish to personalize their own bodies indeed this is not necessarily ego, but a very strong sense of self. Nothing could be more positive to the human psyche than for someone to have “buy in” to self and to believe in self.

There are many folks who indeed study the psychology of those who put tattoos on themselves, yet it seems that they are studying these folks, as if they are a rat in a cage, but those with tattoos are not in any cage at all, as they are expressing their freedom.

While the psychologist attempting to study them is the one in their little self constructed professional cage, who is still trying to figure themselves out. Meanwhile who is the rat in this case; well probably the researcher and not the tattooee.

It is often interesting the wide array of individuals who get tattoos, but that is just it you see they are individuals, not a bunch of clones, nurtured into the box of society, living lives that everyone else wants them to live, rather than knowing self and experiencing and living their life experience on their terms like the Tattooed Individual. Consider this in 2006, you uptight yuppie scum.