We’ve all got that one mate who lives their life a little differently. That one friend who enjoys a hot yoga session followed by some transcendental meditation instead of a few beers down the pub watching the footy.
Similar to vegans, they often love to tell you how yoga is the key to keeping in shape or how meditation is good for the mind, but a new study has found these new age practices are more likely to boost your ego than provide fuel for the soul.
In the first part of a two-phase study conducted by researchers in Germany and England, 93 yoga students responded to a questionnaire over a period of 15 weeks, assessing their self-enhancement, narcissistic tendencies and self-esteem after practising yoga.
Researchers found, unsurprisingly, that participants showed a higher sense of self-worth and self-enhancement an hour after practice. When answering the questions the students were more likely to say statements such as, “I am the most helpful person I know” and “I have a very positive influence on others,” when describing themselves.
The second phase of the researcher involved asking 162 meditation students to answer a similar questionnaire over a period of four weeks after they had meditated. Similar results were found, with students showing a higher feeling of self-enhancement an hour after meditating.
The biggest takeaway from this study is how the true meaning of yoga and meditation has changed over the years. Both yoga and meditation are ancient art forms focused on calming the soul, with yoga particularly used to pacify the ego and help individuals feel at one with themselves. These latest findings reveal Western-style yoga is no longer true to its South Asian heritage, with the real meaning behind the practice having been lost over the years.
It’s not all bad, though, as self-enhancement goes hand-in-hand with people having high self-esteem and feeling good about themselves. Although this is only a short-term feeling, it does make people feel happier than the average Joe Blow. The downside is they are likely to be overconfident, braggadocios or condescending, exhibiting social behaviours that aren’t popular amongst their friends and family.
So if you’ve got an annoying friend who enjoys wearing activewear, performing the downward dog in public and telling you all about the joys of meditation, just remember there’s a scientific reason behind their feelings of self-righteousness.