Positive Psychology and Yoga, Part 3: Growth and Change

by Sandy
New Progress by Jamie Wyeth

Constructive psychology is constructed on the promise that we will improve our personal happiness. A number one principle means that forty % of our happiness relies on our personal decisions and conduct, with one other forty % biologically decided by the mind chemistry that we inherited and the remaining twenty % primarily based on our life circumstances. This principle factors to the very interesting chance that we will deliberately enhance our personal happiness by as a lot as forty %! Two key ideas of constructive psychology, constructive interventions and development mindset, give us strategies and instruments for doing simply that. 


Constructive Interventions and Yoga

Constructive interventions are intentional actions and practices, reminiscent of gratitude practices and aware savoring of constructive experiences, aimed toward growing our personal well-being, both within the second or total. Constructive psychologists have studied which of those practices accomplish this most successfully, and there are at present a dozen research-backed constructive interventions, with extra being studied. 

The concept that intentional observe can provide us some management over our personal emotional state—that it would assist us journey emotional waves extra skillfully somewhat than merely reacting to the ups and downs of unusual life—is nothing new to yogis. Even newcomers to yoga are regularly amazed by how a lot better they really feel after only one class, and that is typically their main motivation to proceed working towards. This was actually true for me and I’ve heard the identical from lots of my college students. And if we have now realized something from common observe, it’s that we will positively have an effect on our personal well-being on our yoga mats. Every of us is our personal laboratory on this regard, frequently experimenting with and testing, over time, a set of instruments referred to as asana, pranayama, and meditation to seek out what works for us as people. This, for me, has been one of many best advantages of growing my very own observe, somewhat than counting on lessons for my yoga repair. 

That is additionally why one among my central pursuits in constructive psychology is the connections now being made between the science of happiness and mind-body science. Though historically psychological and bodily well being have been handled individually, treating them synergistically has confirmed to have many advantages. For instance, research have proven that for many individuals train may be as or more practical as medicine for stopping or treating despair, and that for individuals who do want pharmaceutical anti-depressants, the medicine is considerably more practical together with an train program. 

My work on this subject largely facilities round my perception that mind-body dualism (the long-held view of thoughts and physique as separate) is a completely false assemble. In actual fact, there is no such thing as a precise discernible boundary between thoughts and physique. As animals, we developed to have the ability to transfer, and our minds are essentially motion primarily based. Put merely, what is nice for our our bodies can also be good for our minds, and there’s a rising push in constructive psychology so as to add the bodily dimension to the definition of flourishing. 

We yogis expertise this profound connection for ourselves by way of our observe, as the entire integration of thoughts and physique. The vast majority of practitioners acknowledge that the sense of well-being we really feel after working towards goes far past the bodily and that feeling higher in our our bodies boosts our total temper and brightens our days. Science more and more backs this up with analysis that exhibits vital cognitive, emotional, and psychological well being advantages outcome from train, improved vitamin, and time spent outdoor. Happiness could also be many issues, however one factor it positively is, like all feelings, is a biochemical state. 

Wanting again, I understand that even earlier than I discovered my strategy to yoga and lengthy earlier than I found constructive psychology, I instinctively used the mind-body connection as a constructive intervention for myself. As a tween and teenager, I’d typically escape my considerably chaotic, tough house life to go for bike rides and lengthy meandering walks by way of the Berkeley Hills and Tilden Park. These have been alternatives for me to be in my physique in addition to peacefully alone with my very own ideas (ah, the Nineteen Seventies, when youngsters have been nonetheless allowed to have unsupervised time). It’s clear to me from this vantage level that I used to be self-medicating with train, the very definition of a constructive intervention! Discovering yoga in my twenties gave me a beautiful avenue to proceed with that all through my life. 

Constructive Intervention Train

A mini vinyasa (shifting out and in of two poses together with your breath) is usually a easy and refreshing two-minute mood-boosting break and a possibility to tune into your individual mind-body connection as a constructive intervention. Strive elevating your arms overhead with an inhalation and reducing them once more with the exhalation. Or, attempt shifting from Tadasana (Mountain pose) into Uttansana (Standing Ahead Bend) in your exhalation and returning to Tadasana in your inhalation. Repeat both of those actions 5 or ten instances in a row, actually focusing in your breath as you do. 

Progress Mindset and Yoga

Progress mindset is one other key constructive psychology idea that yogis will acknowledge. The essential concept of development mindset is that somewhat than being fastened, intelligence and aptitudes may be grown by way of aware effort. I believe that is additionally one thing yoga practitioners study organically when encountering a difficult pose. Once we persevere and proceed to work on it, we transition from considering “I can’t do that” to “oh, wow, I’m getting higher at this!” to “this as soon as inconceivable factor has turn into snug for me!!!” 

I personally discovered the standing poses extraordinarily daunting in my early years of observe, and actually hated Parsvakonsana (Aspect Angle pose) for a very long time. I keep in mind being astonished once I realized it had turn into a lot simpler for me, and that I now not dreaded it. And after having this expertise just a few instances, the preliminary “I can’t do that” adjustments to “I can’t do that but.” Over time this teaches that the advantages, studying, and development we get from taking up new challenges are worthwhile in and of themselves, even when we by no means attain a way of ease in a selected pose. The journey, course of, and exploration are certainly the purpose, or fruits, of the observe, somewhat than reaching a desired pose or amassing new asanas. That is development mindset in motion. 

For me, studying to use the expansion mindset I’ve realized on the mat to different areas of my life is one other approach I’ve felt empowered by observe. A latest instance that I’m very happy with is getting an A in my grad college statistics class. I at all times recognized as a “unhealthy at math, good at humanities” sort of individual, and stopped taking math in highschool as quickly as I might. I used to be fairly intimidated on the prospect of getting to face that statistics requirement after having left math behind over 40 years earlier than. However the statistics requirement was unavoidable for my diploma, and succeeding was deeply vital to me, so I buckled down. I don’t know that I might have approached it with the identical fortitude had I not realized the worth of persevering by way of lived expertise on my mat. 

Making use of Progress Mindset 

Maybe you, too, have yoga poses you as soon as discovered difficult, and even hated, that you simply made buddies with over time. It may be very affirming to remind your self of those, and much more so to recall instances in your life if you rose to an event or achieved one thing you didn’t assume you might do, particularly if you encounter a brand new problem. Is there one thing you’re going through in your life now that might profit from making use of this identical development mindset? Possibly there’s a new behavior you want to implement or one thing associated to the numerous challenges of the pandemic? 

The Science of Happiness

Constructive interventions and development mindset are ideas are simply a few many connections I see between yoga observe and the science of happiness, and they’re instruments that I hope might be helpful to you. I’m frequently grateful that I discovered my strategy to each yoga after which constructive psychology, and hope that drawing on the 2 disciplines, I will help us proceed to reply the questions of what we will do to be happier and the way we will study and develop all through our lives. 


For details about Sandy’s lessons, writing, and constructive psychology journey see www.sandy.blaine.com.


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