Improve Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation with Yoga Practice
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Mindfulness is described through systematic mental training that develops meta-awareness (self-awareness), an ability to effectively modulate one’s behavior (self-regulation), and a positive relationship between self and other that transcends self-focused needs and increases prosocial characteristics (self-transcendence).” – David Vago
Mindfulness promotes meta-awareness self-awareness, an ability to effectively modulate one’s behavior, self-regulation, and a positive relationship between self and other that transcends self-focused needs and increases prosocial characteristics, self-transcendence. This is sometimes abbreviated as S-Art. It is not known, however, if yoga practice, which is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise, also promotes S-Art.
In today’s Research News article “Applying the S-ART Framework to Yoga: Exploring the Self-Regulatory Action of Yoga Practice in Two Culturally Diverse Samples.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.585300/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1692584_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210729_arts_A ) Tolbaños-Roche and colleagues recruited yoga practitioners and non-practitioners from India and also from Spain who were participating in a short-term yoga certificate program lasting 1 to 3 months. They were measured for interoceptive awareness, attention, emotional awareness, decentering, emotion regulation, and self-transcendence.
They found in comparison to non-practitioners that the yoga practitioners were significantly higher in decentering, self-awareness, and self-regulation. In addition, the longer the practitioners have practiced yoga the higher the levels of self-awareness (interoceptive awareness), and self-regulation. They found cultural differences in that the Indian sample had a significant relationship between yoga practice and the longer the practitioners have practiced yoga and the levels of self-awareness and decentering. On the other hand, for the Spanish sample the greater the amount of exercise and the frequency of the yoga practice the greater the levels of self-awareness and decentering. These cultural differences may result from differences in the reasons for yoga practice in the two cultures; while in India yoga is often used as a spiritual practice while in Spain yoga is often used as an exercise.
This study employed natural groups; yoga practitioners compared to non-practitioners. This leaves open the possibility that the differences in self-awareness and self-regulation seen were due to the different types of people who choose to practice yoga versus those that don’t and not to the practice of yoga itself. Other results are correlative and thereby don’t allow conclusions regarding causation. Hence, conclusion must be tempered and manipulative follow-up studies are needed.
Nevertheless, the results suggest that yoga practice is associated with higher levels of self-awareness, particularly the awareness of their internal state, and self-regulation, particularly emotion regulation, but not self-transcendence. These are significant benefits of yoga practice that may relate to yoga’s positive effects on mental and physical health.
So, improve self-awareness and self-regulation with yoga practice.
“yoga may function through top-down and bottom-up mechanisms for the regulation of cognition, emotions, behaviors, and peripheral physiology, as well as for improving efficiency and integration of the processes that subserve self-regulation.” – Tim Gard
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch
Tolbaños-Roche L and Menon P (2021) Applying the S-ART Framework to Yoga: Exploring the Self-Regulatory Action of Yoga Practice in Two Culturally Diverse Samples. Front. Psychol. 12:585300. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.585300
Mindfulness practices form the core of numerous therapeutic programs and interventions for stress reduction and the treatment of different health conditions related to stress and life habits. Ways and means to regulate oneself effectively also form the foundation of the path of yoga in the accomplishment of holistic health and well-being. The self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) model can be considered as an overarching neurobiological framework to explain the self-regulatory mechanisms of well-being present in mindfulness-based practices. The current study, by connecting and applying the S-ART framework to the self-regulatory mechanisms in yoga and generating related hypotheses, provides a theory-led explanation of the action of yoga practices, which is sparse in the literature. Testing the S-ART model in yoga in two culturally diverse samples, assessing the model-mapped psychological mechanisms of action, and exploring the influence of perseverance in yoga practice are the original contributions of this study. The study sample comprised 362 yoga practitioners and non-practitioners (197 Indian and 165 Spanish), who completed four tests of psychological variables indicative of the aforementioned three S-ART abilities. These tests were Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA), Experiences Questionnaire-Decentering (EQ-D) subscale, Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), and Relational Compassion Scale (RCS). The results indicated significantly better self-awareness and self-regulatory abilities in yoga practitioners (Indian and Spanish in a combination) than non-practitioners, reflected in higher levels of interoceptive awareness and decentering abilities. Moreover, perseverance in yoga practice acted as a significant predictor of self-awareness and self-regulation in practitioners. An analysis of each cultural sample revealed some differences. Yoga practice and perseverance in it acted as a significant predictor of interoceptive awareness and decentering in Indian practitioners having more than 1 year of sustained yoga practice, but for the Spanish participants, physical exercise and frequency of yoga practice acted as better predictors of interoceptive awareness and decentering in comparison to yoga practice and perseverance in it. The obtained results suggested that the S-ART model provided preliminary but promising evidence for the self-regulatory mechanisms of action in yoga practice within a culturally diverse sample of yoga practitioners. This study also widens the scope of generating further hypotheses using the S-ART theoretical framework for testing the self-regulatory mechanisms of action in yoga practice.