Although Yoga has been defined in hundred different ways, the two most popular and sensible definitions are: “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” (Meaning- Yoga adds fine skills to our life)and “Yogah Chittabrutti Nirodha” (Meaning- Yoga is about controlling our mind by restraining our thoughts). Both of these principles are tied with the philosophy of holistic health.
While the one in modern language can be translated as life-skill, the other would mean emotional competence. In the turbulent world of the 20th century that witnessed two world wars and breaking down of families and communities coupled with militancy, terrorism and HIV/AIDS, the psychologists rehashed the time tested wisdom of the Gita, Bible and Kuran and started recommending life-skills education and emotional intelligence as the new messiah for physical, mental and spiritual health.
A close look at the concept of life-skills would reveal that it is the essence of what Krishna was telling Arjuna repeatedly chapter after chapter. The entire Bhagvat Geeta talks and defines yoga as a life-skill. Each chapter or Adhyaya is named after yoga, i.e., Karma Yoga, Gyan Yoga etc. Even the chapter wherein Arjun was in a State of deep depression is named as “Arjuna Vishada Yoga”. Depression has emerged now as mother of many diseases as most of our illnesses are psychosomatic in nature.
What is then this much talked about life-skills? The World Health Organisation defines life-skills as abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable an individual to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. These skills include: decision making communicating, building self-esteem, developing relationships, dealing with conflicts, problem solving, self-awareness and assessment, pressure resistance, critical thinking and coping with stress and emotions.
Thus, life-skill training aims at making changes in behaviour and enhancing competence in the skill areas. Most of these skills as mentioned here are basically psychosocial competence which means “a person’s ability to maintain a state of mental well-being and to demonstrate this adaptive and positive behaviour while interacting with others, his/her culture and environment.” This is called Chittabrutti Nirodha in Yoga.
A whole set of research and studies now corroborate this age old definition of yoga which now psychologists call emotional intelligence. An individual’s emotional make up determines his/her success in personal, social and professional life to a great extent. Therefore, many people with very high intelligent quotient fail in life and career if there emotional quotient is weak. Everyday we go through a variety of emotions like happiness, fear, anger, affection, love, lust, shame, excitement, disgust, surprise and shocks. A person who is in control of these emotions become successful in life. Practice of yoga, pranayam and meditation skills, by making people self-aware, help them in understanding their own behaviour and improving their social and spiritual quotient.