Yoga for positive health and personality Development:

The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ÿuj” meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. It also means union and integration. Thousands of years ago, the great sage Patanjali summarized the whole philosophy and practice of Yoga into a set of 196 Yoga Sutras; and he compiled and codified all the knowledge that existed in his day on the art and science of Yoga in order to arrive at this treatise. The core of the Yoga Sutras is the eight-limbed path, which forms the basis for modern Yoga practice. These eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Today we know these 8 as Ashtanga Yoga. According to Patanjali, Yoga is a conscious process of gaining mastery over the mind.
Yoga is to promote positive health
Yoga was anyway designed not as a system of medicine, but as a science of positive health. The practices of Yoga are all about unification of the lower self with the higher Self; union of individual self with universal SELF; and the integration of body, mind and soul into a purified whole, including the integration of our inner and outer states of being. Yoga is a state of great steadiness at emotional level; balance of concentration and detachment at mental level and homeostasis at body level. It integrates the personality by bringing body-mind coordination in a well-balanced way. Yoga offers man a conscious process to solve the menacing problems of unhappiness, restlessness and emotional upset, hyper-activity, etc., in the society and helps to evoke the hidden potentialities of man in a systematic and scientific way, by which man becomes a fuller individual.
Yoga for personality development
Personality development in an individual is a process that involves patterns of changes or movements that begin at the conception and continues throughout his/her life span. Personality development is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. There are several dimensions which need to be integrated. Absence of any one dimension makes one's personality incomplete and lop-sided. For a holistic personality, the following dimensions are required to be integrated.

  • Physical dimension
  • Intellectual/cognitive dimension
  • Emotional dimension
  • Social dimension
  • Spiritual dimension

Each dimension has specific activities and processes which undergo certain changes. These changes normally take place in an orderly sequence, though there may be variations in their rate. It is important to note that all dimensions of personality are overlapping, inter-dependent, and intricately interwoven. A purely compartmentalized approach is not at all possible.

Physical dimension

For a holistic personality, a person requires to be physically fit and healthy. This dimension to certain extent is determined by biological inheritance but can be developed by āsana and prānāyāma and healthy food also.

Emotional dimension

The development of this dimension is reflected in appropriate emotional reaction towards a given situation. This dimension is generally the most neglected area in real life, though it is of paramount importance for a holistic personality. A holistic personality requires that we develop positive emotions, sublimate negative emotions, and express them in a proper way. In order to do this, it is necessary that we effectively manage our emotions. This area falls in the domain of emotional intelligence which is related to management of emotions in an intelligent way. An emotionally intelligent person explores her/his emotional behaviour. This exploration helps in gaining personal insight into the way how one feels and behaves. It also helps in learning new healthy ways to deal with ups and downs of life. In emotional management, Yoga can play a crucial role. Yama, niyama, prānāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhyāna (meditation) are the Yogic practices which facilitate the development of this dimension.

Cognitive, intellectual dimension

Cognitive or intellectual development is related to mental abilities and mental processes, such as perception, learning, memory, thinking, language, concept-formation, reasoning, decision making, problem solving, creative activities etc. Due to the development of this dimension, we are able to acquire new skills and knowledge about the facts and environment around us and perform various mental tasks like analysing, synthesising, evaluating etc. Cognitive development enables us to develop right perspective about the concepts, things or situations. A nurturing environment is essential for cognitive development. Yogic practices such as pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā and dhyāna (meditation) facilitate it by enhancing concentration and memory.

Social dimension

The social dimension of personality is concerned with social skills. This dimension includes inter-dependence, harmony with others, behaving according to rules and norms of the society, developing healthy and caring relationships with those around us etc. Social dimension is an important aspect of personality as it brings harmony in society. Social dimension of personality can be taken care of by developing positive attitude towards others and controlling our negative emotions.

Spiritual dimension

Spiritual dimension of personality includes knowing the ‘self’ or more appropriately realizing the ‘self’, having a sense of right and wrong (moral values) and understanding meaning and purpose of life. It also includes integration of values with actions. Spirituality is a universal concept and revolves around ethics, morality and knowing about the 'true self'. Spiritual development can be achieved by self-analysis, introspection, proper alignment of thought pattern, adopting moral values in day-to-day life. Contemplation on certain questions (like, who am I? or what is meaningful in my life?) can develop an awareness about the self and develop a sense of purpose and direction in life resulting into spiritual growth.

Yogic attitudes for personality development

Yoga has been propagated as a potential tool for development of integrated personality. Yogic practices if applied in a right way are very useful in developing an integrated personality. Attitudes are crucial to one's personality. The attitudes influence our cognition and prepare us to behave in a particular way. They are accompanied by emotions and feelings. Attitudes can be both positive and negative. Positive attitude prepares an individual to behave in a positive way, while negative attitude brings negative proneness in one's behaviour. Simply put, our behaviour is the reflection of our attitudes.

An integrated or holistic personality requires a balanced development of all the dimensions of one’s personality, namely, physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions. Yoga and Yogic practices have a great potential to develop a holistic personality in an individual human being. Yogic attitudes protect a person from unwanted negativities and help in proper development of emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of her/his personality.