The Psychology of Yoga

Written by kalabin. Posted in Articles

That is the great liberation – deliverance from the reticence and narrowness of personal consciousness, from karma, the chains and mirages of changeable material existence. In classical Yoga, liberation is the way of spirit to the other reality existing outside the time and space of the limited natural world. This is the returning to the origins of absolute spiritual being.

While studying the methods of liberation, at first, it is necessary to pay attention to one important circumstance. The philosophic system sanhya and philosophic system sanhya-yoga, in spite of somehow similar understanding reality, see the method of liberating spirit differently. As for such a method, Sankhya offers spiritual cognition.

However, classical Indian Yoga – Patandjali’s Sankhya-Yoga – considers the practice of active spiritual efforts and consciousness discipline as the method of liberation. Sankhya’s ideology of liberation was reflected in the system of Djnani-Yoga (‘Yoga of cognition). And the liberation ideology and principles of Sankhya-Yoga became the basis of classical Indian Rajah-Yoga (‘regal Yoga’).

According to Patandjali, the absolute isolation of Spirit from Matter cannot be achieved otherwise than through Yoga practice. But why is Yoga practice necessary here? Because the main thing in achieving liberation is deliverance from ‘the seeds of consciousness affects’. Vyasa explains: through removing the affects the root of karma is destructed, and the man of wisdom achieves liberation being still alive. In the future, he won’t be connected with the world of material forms as he delivered his consciousness from false ideas and attachments leading to the formation of karma.

The root of affects, understood as the false (negative) guidelines and consciousness contents, is the unconscious psychic prints (sansaras) of the past mental-psychic movements (vritti) of consciousness. These are the hidden, potential psychic tendencies which, in certain conditions, can appear in human psychics and give birth to the corresponding actual consciousness contents. And among them there can be not only positive, but also negative ones – affective consciousness contents. That is why, to achieve liberation, yogis should deliver from not only random mental-psychic movements, but also from unconscious prints in their psychics.

How is it possible to set control over the activity of consciousness and unconsciousness in human psychics? What is necessary for that is Yoga understood as ceasing random activity of consciousness. Ceasing such an activity of consciousness is achieved due to the spiritual practice of consciousness concentration and impartiality. In other words, here a special psychic technology of consciousness control is used which, at its highest levels, leads consciousness to the superior spiritual discipline.

To control consciousness, and consequently to achieve liberation, why is impartiality necessary, i.e. absence of sensory passions and indifference to sensory enjoyment? The matter is that, according to Yoga masters’ findings, constant enjoyments make psychics dependent on sensory things. Psychics is getting filled with the unconscious prints of the past sensory impressions which make consciousness rush in the direction of sensory objects again and again. Instead of control over consciousness, there is a closed circle of constant inclinations.

But why is it impossible to achieve impartiality through the practice of enjoyment? Because constant enjoyments fix the inclination to sensory objects and at the same time strengthen the proficiency of feelings in enjoyment. Inclination forms the attachment of consciousness to sensory objects, and proficiency makes it look for the most pleasant of them.

Attachment gives birth to constant sufferings as a result of constant changeability of sensory objects (loss, illness, death, destruction, etc). Proficiency creates unchangeable sufferings because of the appearing dissatisfaction by the object possessed and the endless search of a new, unknown object of enjoyment. The first and second streams of sufferings strengthen each other and break the inner balance of consciousness, i.e. impartiality.

That is why the achievement of impartiality by means of enjoyment is the filling of a vessel without a bottom. Unless there is no bottom, the process of filling is endless. What is the ‘bottom’ in our case which lets fully fill the ‘vessel of impartiality’? This is the deflection of sensory organs and consciousness from that brings enjoyment and the gradual development of impartial attitude towards the pleasant and unpleasant.

As ancient wise yogis believed, the way to liberation begins from acquiring the true spiritual knowledge about the world and human essence. However, pointing to the ‘true knowledge’ as the means of liberation, Vyasa doesn’t go to the philosophic positions of Sankhya syatem. In his opinion, such a knowledge doesn’t appear itself, but as a result of removing ‘non-purity of consciousness’ (i.e. imperfection) by auxiliary means of Yoga. For Patandjali, Vyasa anf their followers, it is obvious that the special state of consciousness leading the human spirit to liberation is the consequence of a persistent Yoga practice.

What are the auxiliary Yoga called? They are eight steps of practical Yoga well-known in the modern world. The first five of them are ‘outer means’ of Yoga (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara). The next three are ‘inner means’ of Yoga (dharana, dhyana, Samadhi). The first five favour the aims of Yoga indirectly only. They have the preparing functions of ethical, physical and psychophysical character.

The last three are the direct means or factors of realizing the aims of Yoga. Their object is the same as the main Yoga object – it is consciousness or psychic world. The inner Yoga means help develop the necessary discipline of consciousness. It submits to the spirit control and becomes its obedient instrument.

Through the stop of chaotic activity of consciousness, yogis remove false knowledge, affects and their reasons. Then consciousness is dissolved in separating understanding which cannot be confused and shaken by sensory objects of the material world and unconscious psychic prints of past impressions.

When the separating understanding of non-identity of Universal Consciousness and personal Ego becomes stable and constant, the embodied spirit realizes its absolute spiritual essence and rushes into the depths of Cosmic other-being which is free of the laws of time and spase of physical worlds.

The Psychology of Yoga


Patandjali calls “five ingredients of mental ability which bring sufferings and don’t bring sufferings”: understanding, delusion, fantasy, dream, recollecting. “Understanding is the result of direct experience, thinking and explanation. The illusion of understanding based on the information which doesn’t relate to reality is delusion. The stream of empty images having no real basis is fantasy. The reflective mental activity without understanding is dream. The exact replaying of ever perceived is recollecting”.

Being uncontrolled, all the five kinds of mental activity prevent from adequate self-consciousness of ‘I’ hiding from him the objective reality behind the wall of subjectively coloured images, thoughts, associated rows, emotional reactions, etc.

It happens until we make a transition within ourselves from the middle-human state of the hormone-conditioned fuss of mind to the more effective state of the conscious control over mental activity and understanding the stimuli of our behavior motivation.

Impartiality (or ‘vairatya’) helps to let us understand that our self-consciousness and the fuss of mind are not the same and to see the happening in mind processes from aside. Patandjali calls it the necessary basis for controlling all the five kinds of mental activity: “absence of inclination to the wish objects perceived directly or known from description”.

According to Patandjali, it is just impartiality that results in the possibility “of perceiving oneself irrelative to the triple nature of being”. It is triple as the functional dynamics of nature (‘prakriti’ in Sanskrit) is defined by the interaction of basing Powers or “fundamentals” (‘guns’ in Sanskrit).

So, impartiality up to the full independence of perceiving oneself on the triple nature of being – that is the necessary ‘basis’. If the basis is stable enough, the ‘superstructure’ over it will naturally be the control over the mind behavior.

Patandjali describes the technology of achieving the impartiality as follows: “The repeating desire in combination with a long stress performed regularly and persistently during a long time makes the impartiality stable”. Further, Patandjali describes the algorithm of successive running the levels of realizing oneself first of all and one’s own interrelations with the world.

In Hatha Yoga, the most popular modern direction of Yoga, “the long stress realized continuously and persistently” is interpreted as the isometric training, in other words, the long fixation of maximum strain of certain groups of skeleton muscles.

In its influence on the human physical abilities, the isometric training differs from the dynamic technology of alternating short-time stresses and relaxations by the fact that it appreciably increases power without great growth of muscle mass – due to the change of muscle tissue quality and the coordination level of the ‘brain-muscles’ system. But the main advantage of isometric training is effective strengthening tendons.

Usually the limitedness of the tendon-tissue functional resource prevents from developing the body abilities of an average individual. It does it more than the musculature weakness itself. The human muscles potentially can develop the effort greatly exceeding the ultimate strength of tendons, but they don’t do it thanks to the psychic mechanism of ‘blocking the dangerous stress level’.

The block is removed automatically for a short time only in cases of a real danger for a human life. First of all, the isometric training strengthens tendons – it ‘moves out’ the dangerous ultimate stress and ‘teaches’ the body to use ‘the available power resource’ more effectively.

The legendary early-XX century athlete, Samson (Alexander Zass) built his trainings on the basis of isometric exercises. Having an incredible physical power, he didn’t have an outstanding body-build and looked as a harmoniously built man of a middle height.

But the most interesting fact is that after a long fixation of static stress, the intellect becomes ‘empty’ by itself. In such a situation, the brain instantly makes analysis of the ‘consumable part of power budget’ of organism and switches off the processes which are not necessary at the moment, but consume energy. And the first ones in the ‘black list’ appear to be the absolutely unproductive but very energy-consuming ‘thought movements’ which the ‘fuss of intellect’ consists of.

As a result, after coming out of the long fixation of the ultimate static stress, the consciousness state as well as possibly corresponds to the formulation “absence of inclination to wish objects”. In this way impartiality is created. But as soon as the organism recovers a bit after stressing, the processes connected with the intellect fuss appear again: the clips of thoughts are running; the associating rows are being built and creating branches; emotional reactions cause the behavior stereotypes.

But if we continue practicing the Hatha Yoga technics “regularly and persistently, for a long time”, “with the desire of achieving”, in the end, we spend in impartiality more time than in the ‘usual’ intellect fuss. The inclination or ‘guideline for result’ consists in the intention to notice the changes happened and to remember well for the easy following identification with the aim of fixing, extending in time and making it a norm of life.

The regular repetition supports and strengthens the result achieved. And the principally ‘detrimental’ state of consciousness is not perceived any longer as the ‘usual’ one turning into tiresome and thereby very unwished. That is why brain makes the choice in favour of the consciousness state without fuss, with the intellect behavior suppressed by the ‘Yoga curb’.

The ultimate enlarging of the relaxed muscle and tendon tissues increases their ‘energy capacity’. The ultimate static stress of muscle tissues and the accompanying training the soft organ tissues increases the density of distributing ‘prana’ or energy in the body. The transitional movements between asanas (training poses) and the ‘built-in’ movements in asanas (vinyasas and kriis) provide the optimal dynamics of filling the body soft tissues with energy and its transition to bones with the following collecting in the structure of bone tissue and marrow.

The asana forms are designed so that to structure ‘the energy field’ and necessarily organize its consisting ‘power streams’. Then, through certain manipulations with the triple ‘breath-attention-perception’ there is a transition to the level of structuring the information field, the structure and contents of which defines the algorithm of developing space-time, i.e. the structure of the Universe as it is.

The control over distributing the ‘prana component’ in the body during the Yoga training is made by means of controlling the body movements and air movement in the body. There are even special terms for defining this practice component: ‘pranayama’ in the Sanskrit variant, ‘tsigun’ in the Chinese one. It is translated as ‘control over power’, ‘energy control’, the art of power control’.

The main technical in the technology of controlling the distribution of ‘prana’ or ‘tsi’ by means of breath is the smoothness and slowness of breathing. The smooth slow breath lets not only perform asana correctly, but be also an effective method which, without any outer movement, lets “move the inner power”.

In such a way, the transition is made from ‘power control’ by means of breath control to ‘power control’ by means of attention control. The attention control, in its turn, is the bridge to the conscious control of perception characteristics. And the conscious control of perception characteristics is the key to the control over the interaction with information field. The next step is the development of ability to insert the corrections into the state of information field which refers to ‘siddhi’ (in Sanskrit it means ‘super-human abilities’).

The conscious control of information field lets consciously influence all the aspects of being including ‘the character of running’ and ‘eventual filling’ of time streams. It is necessary to notice that here the key factor of the successful influence is impartiality or, in other words, absence of wishes, as they are, and 100%-changing them with fully conscious intention.

In Yoga, a human being who has achieved this state is traditionally called ‘enlightened yogi’ or ‘Siddhi’. The enlightened yogi’s personal will became equivalent to the Will of Single – to the main controlling factor of the Universe reality, and the personal power of such a super-human being was really not limited by anything except his own intention. This phenomenon is caused by the very essence of the World evolution – the process of Spirit manifestation in the material creating for the sake of His self-consciousness.

We are finishing our excursus into the Yoga psychology by the citations from the texts on Yoga (“Shiva samhita” and “Hatha-Yoga pradipika”):

“Really, many difficult and almost irresistible obstacles are awaiting a yogi on his way; however, he should continue practicing despite any dangers even when he is on the edge of death…”

“Shiva samhita” (The author and date of its creating are unknown, about XII-XIV cent. BC)

“A rare family is lucky which is chosen by a yogi for his birth, and the country where he lives is blessed. Everything that is given to him is deathless. He who sees the essence of creation burns the karma of millions of encarnated creatures simply by looking at them, speaking to them and touching them. One yogi is worth one thousands of ordinary people, hundreds of Saints and a thousand of priests. Who has the gift of understanding the verity of regal Yoga? The country where such a person lives is sacred. The generations of ignorant people achieve liberation onlu by looking at him. What can we say about those who were really taught by him? He who knows the outer and inner Yoga practice is worth your admiring, as well as mine and all the people’s on the Earth”.

Svatmarama “Hatha Yoga pradipika” (About XI cent. AD)

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Leave a comment