The Psychophysical Lab: Yoga Practice and the Mind-Body Problem

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How has it come about that the relations between mind and body have come to be seen as a problem – a problem that preoccupies scientists, psychologists, philosophers and therapists? How has it come about that Western civilization developed one branch of medicine (physiology) to take care of the body; another (psychology and psychiatry) to take care of the mind, and none to take care of the whole person? And how is it that yoga has come to be so popular in the west?

In this book, a philosopher and a senior yoga teacher argue that the practice of yoga offers something that western medicine, as well as most forms of physical exercise, do not; it offers a method that engages both mental and physical capacities, so that the one can be used to train and improve the other. In doing so, they draw on an Aristotelian conception of human nature as a psychophysical unity endowed with various capacities.

The book offers a philosophical and historical analysis of the mind-body problem—its origin, development, and possible solution (chapter 3); a practical framework, the psychophysical lab, as a means of observing, studying and developing the relations between mental and physical aspects of human nature through yoga practice (chapter 1); and an attempt to show how yoga practice can foster the mutual development of our mental and physical faculties. The final chapter adds practice sequences with marked mental benefits. The book is unique in offering a comprehensive framework – both practical and theoretical – for investigating and developing our nature as psychophysical unities.

The Authors:

Ohad Nachtomy is a Professor of Philosophy at Bar-Ian University and a visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. Ohad is a long time yoga practitioner and has published several books and many articles in the history of philosophy and science. His recent books have appeared with Oxford University Press and Springer.

Eyal Shifroni is a Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher and holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Teknion in Israel. He is the author of four books: A Chair for Yoga and Props For Yoga, Volumes I, II, and III.

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