Yoga Philosophy and Different TA Concepts

In the following lines, I will go through several TA concepts and yogic principles. I want to show you the places where I experienced my Aha effects and where I found a place for TA concepts in yoga through my education as a yoga instructor.

Functional Ego System

In Yoga, the ego represents the greatest enemy of all people, both those who follow their spiritual paths and those with mental problems. Such people get offended easily and quickly and often react in a way they later feel sorry for. Some of them always have negative reactions, categorically rejecting any help or advice, or do the exact opposite of what they're told. Their ego cannot accept anything from others, even when others are obviously right. It is therefore important that these people clean their Antahkarana – their inner mental qualities or functions (Maheshwarananda, 1987). In TA, one of the concepts is exactly the system of Ego states – Parent, Adult, and Child, each representing an entire set of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors from which we communicate with each other. In a psychotherapeutic process, a person learns to distinguish all manifestations of the ego states, so that by various exercises, becoming aware of, creating the fluency of ego states and their integration, those negative states that represent blockages to achieving the autonomy or the integrated Adult ego-state liberated from negative aspects of the Parent and Child ego-states are eliminated.

In yoga there are different states of connection (Miklec, 2019):

1. Balanced connection (yoga) – can indicate an integrated Adult as the ultimate goal in a psychotherapeutic process.

2. Unbalanced connection or excessive connection to children (atiyoga) – corresponds to the dominant behavior from the ego state of a negative Nurturing Parent, who unconsciously and with best intentions binds his children to himself, by doing things instead of them, thereby indicating nonverbally that they are incapable, which generally prevents them from achieving their full life potential here and now.

3. Insufficient connection or lacking of care for children (ayoga) – can correspond to the ego state of a negative Criticizing Parent, who may completely neglect or ignore a child with his carelessness or influence the child development of a weak self-esteem system by his negative labels and dysfunctional and harassing behaviors.

4. Wrong/unhealthy connection or wrong relationship with children (mitya yoga) – can be reflected in a combination of a negative Nurturing Parent and a negative Criticizing Parent.

Strengthening the Capacity of the Adult Ego State

In Yoga, it is important not to lose the goal in front of us (Samadhan), which means to withdraw, think, and observe. Sometimes difficulties and problems throw us off balance, so we become restless and nervous, angry, and feeling like there is a storm inside of us. The philosophy of yoga recommends that we should sit down, close our eyes and think about the situation and our condition, and then it is useful to ask ourselves the following questions: “What have I done? What was I supposed to do? What was I thinking? What do I think now? Why do I think so? What should I think?”(Maheshwarananda, 1987). In TA, a therapist asks similar questions, constantly challenging the Adult ego state inside a client to think, reflect and draw conclusions based on information, enabling him/her to reach creative solutions for him/herself and his/her life. Here, it is essential that the person should learn that he/she can choose him/herself the ego state to respond to a trigger situation or a transaction of another person. By strengthening the capacity of the Adult, reasoning and problem solving, the person may be able to calm the inner waves (vritti), which corresponds to the second yoga sutra "Yoga shchitta vrittinirodah" – yoga is in stopping the vortex of consciousness. When this happens, the person can dive deep into him/herself, realize the truth, reality and his/her own power, understand where the first "poisonous" transactions towards him/herself or towards others would come from, and turn them into the constructive and positive ones. This kind of consciousness leads the person to yama and niyama, which are the beginning of the path to enlightenment.

Stroke Economy

Just like it is important in yoga for a person to return to their path of self-confidence, self-confidence and self-esteem in order to get in touch with their great abilities (Maheshwarananda, 1987), so it is in TA, when by working on ourselves and becoming aware of our internal developmental deficits we gain the opportunity to support ourselves, make new decisions and give ourselves permissions that we as young beings would miss at the time of our early development. By becoming aware of the aspects that are of no use any longer and the contents caused by Stroke Economy (Steiner, 1969) in our lives, the individual has the opportunity to change themselves and the ways of unhealthy patterns of stroking themselves and others, their view of others, of themselves in relation to others, and to allow themselves to feel important and valuable since this is the only way to develop their maximum abilities and potentials. Therefore, it is extremely important that the person gives a stroke (stimulation/praise), asks for a stroke, accepts the stroke they want, rejects the stroke they don’t want, as well as to give themselves a stroke.

OK Corral and Life Positions

The attitude of great yoga teachers and gurus is the same towards everyone – both towards princes and the poor (Maheshwarananda, 1987). In TA the concept of OK Corral refers to 4 life or existential positions that we change during a lifetime depending on the situations we are in (I am ok – You are ok; I am ok – You are not ok; I am not ok – You are ok, and I'm not ok – You're not ok; see Figure below). The 'I am OK, You are OK' position is the healthiest one and a therapist must represent it in his/her work. This suggests that we are all equal as human beings, in addition to showing respect for and understanding the importance of every person we meet, regardless of whether we work as therapists, yoga instructors, or not.
OK koral (Ernst, 1971)
Drama Triangle and Winner's Triangle

I will not write about all the 8 limbs of yoga here – you can read about it on other websites that deal much more with the yoga contents and teachings. I'll refer to the first two limbs of yoga, which include:

1) Yama (social code of conduct) and everything influenced by our thoughts, speech, and actions in the presence of 5 yamas (Ahimsa – refrain from harming, Satya – refrain from lying, Asteya – refrain from stealing, Brahnacharya – refrain from sense indulgence and Aparigraha – refrain from greed); and

2) Niyamu (personal code of conduct), which implies the person's attitude towards himself/herself, his/her body and towards all aspects of his/her being in the presence of 5 niyamas (Saucha – purification, Samtosa – contentment, Tapas – self-discipline, Svadhyaya – self-study and the study of sacred texts, and Isvara pranidhana – self-surrender or trustful surrender to God).

I've decided to deal with the concept of Karpman's Drama Triangle (Karpman, 1968) as the opposite extreme and moving away from Yama and Niyama, and then with its counterbalance and healing through the Winner's Triangle (Choy, 1990) and approaching and reaching Yama and Niyama and developing self-virtues and attitudes towards others.

There are two types of bad actions: unconscious and conscious. The one who consciously breaches the Laws of Karma will incur heavy karma, while some make errors of ignorance, i.e., unconsciously (Maheshwarananda, 1987). In TA, social dysfunctional behavior patterns are called psychological Games, which is represented by a drama triangle (Figure below). These are repetitive and indirect transactions tending to contain strokes, but they amplify negative emotions instead, directly concealing the expression of feelings and thoughts. By uncovering and becoming aware of each of the three roles of the drama triangle – Rescuer, Persecutor, and Victim – a person acquires a tool to avoid being caught by these conscious or unconscious behavior patterns, thus fulfilling an important precondition for (self) control in life and society. As a rule, when people enter the drama triangle, there is a negative outcome that leaves the participants in negative moods and consequently negative emotional states.

Karpman’s Drama Triangle (Karpman, 1968)
In the event of the drama triangle, Karpman introduced three roles – Persecutor, Rescuer, and Victim.

  The Rescuer cares for people who should take care of themselves and perceives others as helpless and incapable of taking care of themselves; solves problems instead of others; prevents others from making their own decisions or finding their own way, and at the same time, this Rescuer person is doing something that he/she does not really want and do more than his/her part is. Unwanted rescue deprives the Rescued of initiative and personal power. The Rescuers eventually start persecuting their Victims when overwhelmed by the needs of those they are rescuing.

  The Victim is incapable of making decisions, letting others manage and take care of his/her life. When a person realizes that he/she is being rescued, he/she feels humiliated and resentful and starts persecuting his/her Rescuer.

  The Persecutor criticizes, judges, preaches, and punishes. He/she may be emotionally cold or show anger, negative criticism, and judgment, and have a superior attitude. Persecuting essentially means using a game of power in order to keep others under control.

Each person has their favorite role from which they usually enter a drama triangle. The point is that each protagonist of the drama triangle swaps at least two roles, or even all three, during this psychological game. There are three stages of playing psychological games: in the first stage, the Victim is harmed in the field of feelings of humiliation, harm, and sadness, in the second stage the Victim is physically injured, and in the third stage there is a suicide or serious injuries can be caused.

As an antithesis, the concept of a winner's triangle was created (Figure below). The Rescuer transforms into a caring person who provides help when asked for, takes care, provides understanding, and accepts that others are capable of thinking on their own. The Victim accepts himself/herself and shares his/her true feelings. The Persecutor is assertive, fully aware of his/her feelings, needs and desires, does not condemn or judge, uses "I" messages, and respects other people's values and integrity.
Choy's Winner's Triangle (Choy, 1990)
Anita Marković