Yoga Psychology
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The ethical discipline



Nick Eakins




The object of Yoga psychology was to teach the way to self knowledge and to lay bare the process of thinking in its ethical aspect of progress towards or away from that self-illumination, which is identical with salvation.


The Yoga system of Patanjali is not primarily a psychological system and its treatment of psychological problems is only incidental to its main metaphysical and ethical purposes. But it differs from other systems of Indian thought, excepting Buddhism, in being more systematic in its handling of psychological problems.


In order to understand Yoga Psychology, one should refer to Bhagavad-Gita and Buddhism.


As YOGASON only deals with the psychophysical aspect of Yoga, I will not go into its spiritual side. 


In Western Psychology, we are primarily concerned with the deepest kinds of mental sufferings.


Yoga is interested in the problems of everyday unhappiness what is the cause of our sufferings?


Thousands of years ago, Yoga found that the roots of suffering in the human mind were greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance, anger, etc. The first step is to identify the areas of conflict expose them correct them as is done in the West the rooting out of the negatives.


The second step is to identify the sources of happiness generosity, love, compassion and wisdom, and to actively practise these This is seen as the functions of religion in the West.


But in India thousands of years ago they were seen as functions of human development and psychology. (6)


Gautam The Buddha probably founded the basis of analytical psychology 2500 years ago. He demanded love of humanity, compassion, and discipline of mind independent of a religious sanction. The humanists honour him as one of the earliest protagonists of their cause - the happiness, the dignity, and the mental integrity of mankind.



YOGA psychology realized the value of concentration and looked upon it as the means for the perception of the truth. It believed that there were no ranges of life or mind, which could not be reached by a methodical training of will and knowledge. It recognized the close connexion of mind and body.


To attain conquest over passions, a discipline is sometimes enjoined. The Indian thinkers believe in the dependence of mind on body, and so prescribe purity of food as necessary for the purity of mind. Control over the passions must be spontaneous..


The Yoga writers introduce the concepts of the subconscious and the unconscious mind as determining instinctive tendencies and also as showing how, by the process of yoga, the efforts of the conscious mind can dominate over the subconscious and the unconscious.7   


Thoughts and emotions are intertwined. A mere thought can trigger an emotion. Thoughts/Emotions guide our behaviour.


Our understanding depends on the state of mind.


The habit of self observation is an effective way to deal with the underworld of the human mind, to root out evil desires and cravings, to maintain an equilibrium between the conscious mind and the other part of our equipment, the complicated psychic and physical apparatus. It was the beginning of mental cultivation.


Mental culture is not so much a suppression of the senses as a cultivation of them to see the truth.


When the mind and the senses are no longer active, when discursive thought ceases, we get the highest and purest state of the soul, when it enjoys the untrammelled bliss of its own nature.   


It is time to remember that the object of Yoga psychology was to teach the way to self knowledge.



As in the Upanisads, the Buddha insisted on an understanding of the facts of human nature  and experience. He realized that mind was fickle and difficult to control, but by training it could become stable and obedient.

The influence of thought in human life and society is great. By changing our thoughts we change our life.


Self-control is very important. It is freedom from routine. It is deliverance from habit, mechanical repetitive living. Self-control is creative life.


Through the practice of meditation and self analysis, we should get rid of the impurities of the heart, which are passion, anger, ignorance, arrogance and pride.


We should achieve the Buddhist ideal of character: mindfulness, wisdom, energy, joyousness, serenity, concentrated meditation, and equanimity.

We should cut off the five poisons: egoism, doubt, false asceticism, lust, and hatred.


Control of anger leads to growth of gentleness, control of covetousness leads to the spread of charity, control of lust to purity in love.





















1. The cultural Heritage of India (Vol. III) - published by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, India

2. Bhagavadgita - by Radhakrishnan

3. Yoga and your Heart - by Dr. K. K. Datey, et al

4. The Conquest of Happiness - by Bertrand

5. Yogic Therapy - by S. S. S. Saraswati

6. Yoga, the psyche and Good Health with Steve Cope in WebMD

7. Dhammapada by Radhakrishnan