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The Psychology of the Yogas

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The Psychology of the Yogas explores the dissonance between the promises of the yogic quest and psychological states of crisis. Western practitioners of yoga and meditation who have embarked upon years-long spiritual quests and who have practiced under the guidance of a guru tell of profound and ongoing experiences of love, compassion and clarity: the peaks of spiritual fulfillment. However, after returning to the West, they reported difficulties and crises in different areas of their lives. Why did these practitioners, who had apparently touched the heights of fulfillment, still suffer from these crises? The author explores the psychological theory of yoga and its concrete yogic psychological methods such as ‘cultivating of the opposite’ (pratipakṣa bhāvanā), transforming it to ‘imagining the opposite’, a practice aimed at healing negative habitual tendencies. These methods are extracted from an in-depth study of the Yoga of Patañjali and the Tibetan-Buddhist Ati Yoga of Longchenpa—the Dzogchen. The works of Patañjali (third century) and Longchenpa (fourteenth century) provide a profound psychological framework for understanding the human psyche. These methods are effective but at times difficult to implement. However, as demonstrated through a case study, Western psychology can effectively undo habitual tendencies in a manner which may complement yoga practice, enhancing the integration of one’s spirituality and psychology.

Published: Aug 12, 2021

Section Chapter Authors
Front Matter
Foreword Peter Fenner
About the Author Gidi Ifergan
Introduction Gidi Ifergan
Chapter 1
The Psychological Layers in Patañjali’s Yoga Gidi Ifergan
Chapter 2
Pratipakṣa Bhāvanā: Cultivating the Opposite Gidi Ifergan
Chapter 3
Pratipakṣa Bhāvanā as Imagining the Opposite Gidi Ifergan
Chapter 4
Western Psychology as a Temporary Complement to Yoga Gidi Ifergan
Chapter 5
Between Classical Yoga and Dzogchen Gidi Ifergan
Chapter 6
The Psychology of Tibetan Dzogchen: Ati Yoga Gidi Ifergan
End Matter
Epilogue Gidi Ifergan
Glossary Gidi Ifergan
Notes Gidi Ifergan
Bibliography Gidi Ifergan
Index Gidi Ifergan


Drawing on his own decades long, compassionate engagement with Indian yoga and Tibetan Dzogchen, Dr. Ifergan explores the full contours and scope of Patanjali’s integral yoga, including Patanjali’s higher order insights into the nature of conditioning, the yoga methods for deep healing and purification, and the peaks of yogic realization.
A particular virtue of this study is its presentation of Patanjali in settings that can be easily recognized by readers who have engaged in any form of psychotherapy or meditation, or who are simply reflecting deeply about their emotional lives. Psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists who are looking to ground their work in a knowledge of yoga psychology, and it’s far reaching potential, will be richly rewarded in these pages. Certainly, readers who practice yoga with a knowledge of Patanjali’s eight-stage (ashtanga) system will benefit immensely from the attention given to practices such as “cultivating the opposite” and the use of creative imagination in yoga psychology.
From the Foreword by Dr. Peter Fenner, author of Radiant Mind and Natural Awakening

Reviews of the Hebrew edition of the book published by Resling Publishing in 2018:

An amazingly readable and persuasive book. I would like to thank the author for both the important study... and for the useful effort he has made to shed light on the dark side of enlightenment.
Ha'aretz: Book Supplement

Ifergan ...uses psychological concepts and enriches the reader with the yoga practitioner's experience. He formulates his words with deep understanding and familiarity with both of these fields of knowledge and offers us both theoretical and experiential learning.
Psychoactualia: Journal of Israeli Psychological Association