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June 25, 2018

Yoga boosts – not diminishes – your ego

A new study questions a long-standing yoga philosophy

Fitness Yoga
Stock_Carroll - Yoga class Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Resting in child's pose in a yoga class.

There are various benefits to yoga, including increased flexibility, improved balance and stonger muscles.

But don't expect yoga to lower your ego – a central claim of the trendy, but ancient, practice.

Yoga is actually boosting all of those yogis' egos, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science.

German researchers found that self-centrality and self-enhancement are exacerbated by yoga – as well as meditation – rather than diminished or curtailed.

The researchers studied a group of 93 yoga students over 15 weeks, and 162 meditators over four weeks. The presumption that yoga quiets the ego needs "serious rethinking," they concluded.

"Moreover, ego-quieting is often called upon to explain mind-body practices' well-being benefits," according to the study. "In contrast, we observed that mind-body practices boost self-enhancement and this boost – in turn – elevates well-being. 

"The latter finding is consistent with the literature on the well-being benefits of self-enhancement outside the yoga domain."

That research has found that practicing any skill will boost your ego, which the researchers describe as "an apparent psychological universal." 

And yoga, apparently, is no exception.