Year : 2021 | Volume
: 53 | Issue : 2 | Page : 79--81
Yoga for mental health, psycho-social harmony, and absolute well-being
Ranjeet Singh Bhogal
Joint Director of Research, Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla, Maharashtra, India
Ranjeet Singh Bhogal
Joint Director of Research, Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla, Maharashtra
|How to cite this article:|
Bhogal RS. Yoga for mental health, psycho-social harmony, and absolute well-being.Yoga Mimamsa 2021;53:79-81
|How to cite this URL:|
Bhogal RS. Yoga for mental health, psycho-social harmony, and absolute well-being. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 1 ];53:79-81
Available from: https://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2021/53/2/79/333353
As per Bhagwat Gita (II: 65 and VI: 21), Prasada, the felt sense of ecstatically para-sensual and para-intellect well-being removes all existential miseries (B.G. II: 65 and VI: 23). Contrary to many a popular belief, arguably the simplest and the most succinct definition of yoga is “Yogah Samadhih” (Yoga is Samadhi). It can, therefore, be inferred that psycho-physiological techniques can be called yoga only when they lead one toward Samadhi, the total psycho-physiologically balanced state, which alone is equipped to bring about sound Mental Health, an enduring psycho-social harmony and the elusive absolute well-being. The concept of Mental Health is Western in origin while in Yoga, the concept of Calming the Mind (Manahprashamanah) is accepted. As per Yoga, the Buddhi has to be stabilized through calming down the mind (manas) and senses (indriyas) before pure consciousness (drashta) is established in its essential nature.
The term “Mental Health,” as envisaged by the WHO, seems to overemphasize social phenomenon:
”A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Psychology, being predominantly socially oriented, has its obvious limits and cannot comprehend and explain satisfactorily many a subtler aspect of our being such as transcendental joy (bliss), inward awareness, contentment, joy of selfless service and so on. So also, the concept of self-realization cannot be satisfactorily understood through empirical methods of psychology. Being psycho-physiological, experiential and transcendental in nature, Yoga can help realize the Self and thereby help attain holistic health encompassing the mental health and transcendental phenomenon. Yoga provides a deeper understanding of mental phenomenon, as well as, practical techniques to attain, protect, preserve and promote the true nature of the mind which is a pre-requisite and sine-qua-none of attainment of harmony and happiness through different ypgic practices.
Mind-Body Relationship in the Context of Psychoneuroimmunology
An interdependence of mind and body has, always, been recognized in Indian thought e.g., Sariramhyapi satvamanuvidhiyate satwanch sariram (carak saṁhita): a particular type of body goes with a particular type of mind and a particular type of mind goes with a particular type of body. In Haṭha pradṭpikā, pañcam updeśa we find a mention of the dynamics of the mind influencing all functions of the body. Our bodily functions are moderated by Pituitary, a tiny gland in our brain. The secretions of this gland are directly influenced by our response patterns. Thoughts and emotions of happiness, peace and harmony release neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, Melatonin and Dopamine. Negative thoughts and emotions create disease-related neuropeptides. Even accidents, due in part, are implicated with disturbed states of mind. As per Bhagwat Gita (II: 64, 65; VI: 21, 22) the Absolute Joy can be gained through yoga. It means, the constant release of good neurotransmitters can amply be evident through yoga.
Yoga Stands for Rather a Holistic View on Health, Harmony And Well-Being
As per Kathopanishad: Our body is akin to a chariot whereby its five horses are likened to five senses that are tied to the reign, i.e., the mind, which ideally is subservient to Buddhi (intellect), the operator of the chariot. Atman or the Self is the charioteer. The mind can be calmed down only when the Buddhi is stabilized through yoga also when senses are withdrawn from their objects through Pratyahara (P.Y.S.II:54). When Buddhi is stable, the mind becomes calm, yoga takes place.
Yoga is a means to attainment of holistic health and harmony that lead one to an enduring and objectless happiness. This happiness, referred to as Prasad or Ananda in Yogic literature, does not require any tangible object for its occurrence. Gita (II: 64) says this joy can be achieved when one undergoes all worldly experiences by keeping Raga (attachment) and Dvesha (antipathy) at bay. In simple words, we should enjoy all worldly phenomena without nurturing any grudge against any one, as well as, without any sense of possessiveness or indulgence.
Genesis of Mental Disturbances
Happenings in our environment affect our mind, depending upon our hereditary response patterns and also our inherent value system. It leads to a reduced comprehensive awareness which, in turn, leads to a loss of continual growth, the very moving force of our existence. The resultant feeling of guilt further torments us, resulting into a loss of self-confidence and an emergence of learned helplessness, anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. This culminates into a loss of comprehensive freedom that leads in loss of comprehensive awareness. Thus, we gravitate towards Vritti Sarupyam (P.Y.S.I:4), considered as the nonyogic state.
Mechanism of Restoring Mental Health and Mental Well-Being
A calm mind and a stable intellect culminate into absolute joy, which, in turn, results into comprehensive awareness. It gives a continual growth, as an individual starts doing justice to his values and ambitions. Thus, he/she starts enjoying creativity, self-dependence and self-confidence. An ensuing comprehensive freedom thus leads into comprehensive awareness and vice versa.
Physiological Basis of The Mechanism of Yogic Effects
Yoga practices, in general, and most breathing and meditative techniques in particular, are performed in an effortless and passive mode with parallel vigilance experienced throughout the body. Sensory Feedback gets augmented toward maintaining the homeostasis. Yoga practices bring about a shift towards the parasympathetic dominance, resulting into a rejuvenation of nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, spinal cord and endocrinal system. Inward awareness, thus accruing, results into a toned-up sensory feedback. Yoga Meditation reaches deeper, unconscious recesses of mind so as to identify, stimulate and remove unconscious impressions, complexes of which we are slave most of times. As a result one becomes sensitive to human relations, personal growth, organizational growth and work-a-day life problems. This affects our decision-making ability favorably, as biases, prejudices and many a complex are naturally mellowed down and removed.
Yoga Mental Calmness Mastering Attachments and Antipathy stability of Intellect leading to absolute joy… As per Bhagwat Gita (II:65), the absolute joy removes all kinds of miseries and endows us with a stable Buddhi/Intellect, which alone has potential to make us gravitate towards the transcendental state of absoluteness or completeness, referred to as Kaivalya in Patanjala Yoga Sutra. Yoga, thus, initiates our journey towards mental health, psycho-social harmony and absolute well-being and beyond. Truly, Yoga seems to be the only panacea for the troubled humanity today.
Most articles, selected in this issue, are promising for their relevance to enhancing mental health.
The article, “Effect of yoga therapy on psychological distress and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy” by Anjali Joshi, Suchitra Mehta, Ajay Mehta, Suresh Ughade and Kamaljeet Randhe, underlies the significance of Yoga therapy intervention in significantly reducing the psychological distress, improving the Quality of Life and improved psychophysiological psycho-social functions, in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. The study shows a great promise for cancer patients in reducing distress and in enhancing mental health, as well as, in preventing exacerbation of carcinogenic symptoms.
Drs. Anup De, Samiran Mondal, and Soumitra Nath Ghosh in their study, “Yogic Postures and Brain Wave Activation: An Experimental Approach” studied the immediate impact of the practice of select yogasanas on electrical responses of the brain and found an increased motor activity, an enhanced autonomic flexibility and improved cognitive states, showing an encouraging relevance of Yogasanas to Mental Health.
In their Experimental study “Effect of Short Duration Integrated Classroom Yoga Module on Physical, Cognitive, Emotional and Personality Measures of School Children,” Drs. Atul Sinha and Sony Kumari found a yoga group practicing a short duration Integrated Class Room Yoga Module showed significant differences, compared to a control group in 2 of 4 physical fitness variables. ICYM, being feasible and efficacious, can indeed be considered in the daily school schedule, particularly in the schools finding difficult to implement conventional yoga module requiring longer time duration. In qualitative analysis students reported better concentration, Teachers observed a better discipline and a more positive attitude towards academics in students.
Drs. Ibohal Singh N, Balaram Pradhan, Mangesh Pandey, Niranjan Parajuli and Achouba Singh Ksh, in their randomized controlled study, “Influence of yoga based program on health satisfaction of the mongoloid patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus patients of mongoloid origin” found health satisfaction scores getting enhanced significantly, indicating activation of neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms improving the patients' overall metabolic and psychological indices, resulting in increase in insulin secretion, glucose tolerance and lipid metabolism.
The article by Drs. Balaji Rajasekaran, Meena Ramanathan and Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, entitled, “Role of Yoga as an Adjuvant Therapy in the Management of Metabolic Syndrome–A Randomized Control Pilot Study,” underlies the significance of adjuvant yoga therapy as beneficial in maintaining good health and reducing the metabolic risk factors, as well as, may have impact on utilization of yoga therapy as a secure and cost-effective add-on therapeutic modality in combating MetS.
In his article, “Sthiti and Yatna in the abhyāsa of Yoga: A Textual study based on 15 Saṃskṛit Commentaries of Yogasūtra” Dr. M. Jayaraman has attempted an analysis of 15 Saṃskṛit commentary literature and came out with the profligate, yet coherent, views on sthiti-s (states) of Yoga, attainable through the multidimensional Yatna (attempts). The inputs from the commentary lore, though discussed in the spiritual, philosophical context, have implications on therapeutic dimensions of Yoga. The study has clear implications for Mental Health through Yoga Abhyasa.
Gurneet Kaur and Paran Gowda, in their article, “Yoga Concept in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Teachings: A Conceptual Frame Development” attempted a conceptual framework commendably, through the Yogic teachings from Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the context of Patanjali Yoga Sutra, using item generation, theoretical analysis and psychometric analysis through 30 items developed after content validity testing and cognitive interviews with select respondents.
Shweta Chauhan and Sanjib Kumar Patra in their article, “Yoga and its adjuvant therapies for the management of Varicose Vein disease-A Narrative review” conclude that even though there are a large number of studies done on VV, but negligible number of studies are available to prove the effectiveness of Yoga on the particular condition. A lot of research trials on urgent basis are needed to prove the efficacy of Yoga in VV disease. Yoga can be a proven therapy in prevention and treatment of VV.
The article, “A Literature Review on Behavioral Attributes of Yoga Postures and Cognition” by Drs. Ankit Gupta, Ram Kumar Gupta takes stock of research done on the impact of asanas on behavioural attributes and cognition. Even though the article does not hold a definitive conclusion, there is a scope for future research implications for impact of asanas towards Mental Health and cognitive functions.
The article, “The coronavirus pandemic impact on India's yoga tourism business” by H. R. Dayananda Swamy and Govindasamy Agoramoorthy, highlights the less known aspects of India's yoga tourism and hospitality and how the continuing COVID-19 pandemic impacts the business. Authors vehement recommendations is a timely call that Yoga, being the cultural and spiritual icon of India, the government must initiate and promote steps to ameliorate the current condition of yoga tourism in the country so that economic growth looks up in postpandemic times to come.
The paper, “Socio-philosophical concept of Duḥkha in Dhammapada and Yoga Sutra: A comparative study” by Arvind Kumar Yadav and Sham Ganpat Tikhe reviews the concept of Duḥkha and its cessation in the light of Dhammapada and Yoga Sutra of Patañjali. The authors assert while Dhammapada emphasizes proper understanding the concept of Anatman, Patanjala Yoga Sutra (P.Y.S.) lays emphasis on understanding the concept of Swarupavastha towards attaining the freedom from Duhkha, i.e., misery. It is logical that before realizing Swarupavastha one should have Abhyasa and Vairagya and also the understanding the concept of Anatman may pave way for Swarupavastha. Both P.Y.S. and Dhammapada, therefore, complement mutually, leading to Self Realization, i.e., Nibbana.