Yoga Mimamsa

: 2018  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 34--36

Yoga for enhancing emotional intelligence

Archana Kumari, Kamta Prasad Sahu 
 Department of Yogic Sciences and Human Consciousness, Dev Sanskriti University, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India

Correspondence Address:
Archana Kumari
Department of Yogic Sciences and Human Consciousness, Dev Sanskriti University, Haridwar, Uttarakhand


Emotional intelligence (EI) plays a very important role in life satisfaction, the quality of interpersonal relationships, academic success, and success in occupations that involve considerable reasoning with emotional information. Emotional sensitivity, emotional maturity, and emotional competency are the three important psychological dimensions of EI, which motivate student to recognize truthfully, interpret honestly, and handle tactfully the dynamics of their behavioral pattern. Yoga has been reported to improve emotional regulation and mental health. This brief review will discuss about the significance of EI for students and the possibility of implementing yoga as an intervention to improve EI.

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Kumari A, Sahu KP. Yoga for enhancing emotional intelligence.Yoga Mimamsa 2018;50:34-36

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Kumari A, Sahu KP. Yoga for enhancing emotional intelligence. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Feb 18 ];50:34-36
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Goleman (1995) popularized the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) with the publication of his book entitled “Emotional Intelligence,” interest in EI has remained high in both the professional literature and the popular press. During the past decade, many EI research has focused on both theoretical development (e.g., Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Cobb & Mayer, 2000), as well as the creation of several assessment measures (e.g., Bar-On, 1997; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000; Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2002). A review of this literature (e.g., Bar-On, 1997; Goleman, 1995; Palmer, Walls, Burgess, & Stough, 2001) revealed that many authors have assumed a relationship exists between EI and several important human values such as life satisfaction, the quality of interpersonal relationships, academic success, and success in occupations that involve considerable reasoning with emotional information (e.g., psychotherapy). Gibbs (1995) noted that on its October 2, 1995 cover, Timemagazine declared that “Emotional Intelligence may be the best predictor of success in life, redefining what it means to be smart” (p. 60). Bar-On (2004) emotional and social intelligence is multidimensional and encompasses “noncognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one's ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures” (p. 14). Bar-On emphasizes that EI differs from cognitive intelligence and that it changes throughout life. This means it can be improved through training and relates to the potential for success in achieving one's aims. Such kind of conceptualization is associated with the ability, competency, and skill to recognize, to understand, to express, to manage, to control, to change, and to adapt personal and interpersonal emotions and feelings and with using understanding to generate positive effects and self-motivation.

 Emotional Intelligence for Students

Theoretically, it appears that emotional and social intelligence and learning styles illustrate a range of congruent thinking, feeling/emotional, and social expression abilities. Connection with academic success may provide useful insight about the impact of EI on student success. EI in students is the most commonly involve concepts of self-awareness, empathy, emotional expression, and regulation (Romanelli, Cain, & Smith, 2006). Emotional sensitivity (ES), emotional maturity (EM), and emotional competency (EC) are the three important psychological dimensions of EI, which motivate student to recognize truthfully, interpret honestly, and handle tactfully the dynamics of their behavioral pattern (Singh, 2003). Many corporations and institutions have examined and to some extent used EI as a measure of these concepts and domains, which some speculate are better predictors of educational and occupational performance (Goleman, 1998a; Goleman, 1998b).

 Brief Introduction About Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian science intended to help an individual to advance spiritually (Taimni, 1961). According to the eight limbs of yoga (Astanga Yoga) of the sage Patanjali (Circa 900 B.C.), the techniques prescribed begin with following certain ethical principles (i) yamas and (ii) niyamas. After this, a practitioner performs specific physical postures ([iii] asanas) which allow the practitioner to remain in the same posture without moving which is considered necessary before meditation, practices voluntarily regulated yoga breathing practices ([iv] pranayamas, withdraws the mind from sense objects [v] pratyahara), practices concentration [vi] dharana) and meditation [vii] dhyana). At this stage, the practitioner is suppose to attain a state of self-realization (viii) Samadhi or Nirvana in Buddhist philosophy.

 Yoga and Emotional Health

Scientific studies reported that yoga can improve the emotional and cognitive health of the practitioner. Recent study on yoga-based self-management of excessive tension in managers published in prestigious Industrial Psychiatry Journal suggest that yoga is associated with improvement in EI combined with ES, EM, and EC, thus leading to mental health promotion in managers indicating yoga as a powerful tool for their effective stress management (Ganpat & Nagendra, 2011).

A randomized controlled study on school children reported that practicing yoga for 45 min daily for 5 days in a week for 3 months found improved total, general, and parental self-esteem (Telles, Singh, Bhardwaj, Kumar, & Balkrishna, 2013). A separate study on 800 adolescent students reported that practicing a yoga module consisting of yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation, and a value orientation program was administered on experimental group for 7 weeks performed better in academics compared to the control group (Kauts & Sharma, 2009). Another study showed that medical students who practice yoga for 16 weeks had improved well-being (Simard & Henry, 2009). Apart from this, a review on yoga for well-being of medical students concluded that considering the beneficial effects of yoga on the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and overall well-being of medical students, it could be recommended to incorporate yoga into the medical curricula (Saoji, 2016). A study was conducted on high school students to evaluate the impact of a yoga intervention on the emotion regulation of high school students as compared to physical education (PE). The students were randomized to participate in a 16-week yoga intervention. It was found that emotion regulation increased significantly in the yoga group as compared to the PE group. Preliminary results suggest that yoga increases emotion regulation capacities of middle adolescents and provides benefits beyond that of PE alone (Daly, Haden, Hagins, Papouchis, & Ramirez, 2015). In a separate study, the effect of yoga on ES of university students was measured before and after 21 days of yoga practice (Ganpat, Dash, & Ramarao, 2014). It was found that yoga can significantly improve ES of students. This finding is important because ES is one of the important dimensions of EI.

A substantial amount of research has found that meditation is not only beneficial to mental health (Baer et al., 2008; Carmody & Baer, 2008; Shapiro, 1992) and in eliminating perceived stress and related symptoms (Carmody & Baer, 2008; Chang et al., 2004) but also in the regulation of cognitive and emotional functioning (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002; Teasdale, 1999; Teasdale et al., 2000). Other studies have found that practicing meditation can enhance EI, tolerance, sociability, empathy, positive states of mind, positive values, happiness and joy, and positive thinking (Baer et al, 2006; Beddoe & Murphy, 2004; Block-Lerner, Adair, Plumb, Rhatigan, & Orsillo, 2007; Chang et al., 2004; Gelderloos, Goddard, Ahlstrom, & Jacoby, 1987; Griggs, 1976; Hanley & Spates, 1978; Lutz, Brefczynski-Lewis, Johnstone, & Davidson, 2008a; Shapiro, 1992; Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998), or have found that it can decrease anger, anxiety, hostility, and depression, and relapses into depression significantly (Dua & Swinden, 1992; Hayes, 2004; Segal, Williams, Teasdale, & Kabat Zinn, 2007; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002; Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998; Teasdale, 1999; Teasdale et al., 2000).

These benefits of meditation may be attributed to its nature (Lutz, Slagter, Dunne, & Davidson, 2008b) found that meditation practices' potential regulatory functions on attention and emotional processes can cultivate such ends as well-being and emotional balance. Shapiro (1982) categorized meditation's attention strategies as being: (a) concentrative meditation; (b) mindfulness meditation; and (c) integrated meditation, which involves shifting back and forth between the first two.


From the above discussion on the effect of yoga on different aspects of the emotional health, we can conclude that there are very few studies which have evaluated the effect of yoga or meditation of EI. Many of the studies mentioned above evaluated the effect of yoga or meditation on different dimensions of EI such as, academic performance, emotional well-being, and ES. The studies reported beneficial effects of yoga on these dimensions of EI. However, study investigating the effect of yoga on EI of college students is lacking.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.[41]


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