Ego in Yoga

This is a re-post  especially for those on the spiritual path of yoga.


“Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra. You cut off one head and another head replaces it. You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost, then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.”

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I enjoy reading the different metaphors explaining the complexity of our ego, and can relate to the idea of a hydra. Our ego will do everything in its power to survive – especially adapting and changing shape.

The ego is very clever. It will allow one version of our body-mind to die and create a better version that fits in with either (1) how it wants to be seen in the world or (2) what is perceives is needed to stay alive in its physical body.

In my experience with others on a spiritual path, the newer version of ego is likely to be a more evolved version of the previous one. It may show up as being kinder person, a more patient parent, a wiser leader, a humble follower, a beacon of sanity in a world judged as mad…

These are still roles that the ego plays. Less damaging perhaps, yet still ego driven.

Recognizing the hydra heads of the ego is the gateway to le

The answer however is not to keep cutting its heads off. After all this would be an ego motivated act!

Instead embrace ego for what it is. A part of our very human nature that clings to life. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

Then we can wake up and realize we really are the divine light beyond ego and our human form.


59 thoughts on “Ego in Yoga

    • Its so complex and tricky. I found instead of fighting it, getting to know it helps. Ego isn’t bad – it helps us in many ways to survive in a competitive uncertain world. Yet when it takes over it can cause immense damage to those around us .. and ultimately ourselves.


  1. ‘Ego’ is such a loose term and open to so many interpretations is it not Val? I think of it in two ways. Fundamentally, there is the entirely natural and historically evolved ego that is none other than the internalised self-entity construct accessing cognition – in other words it is aware of itself reflectively. This is always with us, and always will be. It is the narrative of selfhood and with which we navigate our way in the world, communicate, and not least of all, survive.

    Then there is that often pernicious aspect of ego which fails to cognise that same construct as a construct – i.e. as a narrative fabrication formed in the mind – and instead takes it to be our actuality. It is just that failure which may be abandoned, but not the internal construct of self being aware of itself reflectively, which again, is by definition egoical, yet not pernicious. I personally think it is helpful to view the ego in these two ways.

    H ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    • Very clearly put Hariod! I know this is your area of expertise and so appreciate you adding this important aspect. Ego has many interpretations and gets a bad wrap.
      We would not be here if we didn’t have a sense of self or selfhood. It is what makes us who we are in relation to others and how we see ourselves as human beings. The basic premiss in yoga, according to my understanding is that we are spiritual beings in our essence. The more we connect to this inner Presence of spirit the more we detach from egoic-survival thinking and our stories that make us separate and better or less than others.
      We recognize our human nature and ego more, and learn to not judge it.
      I’m uncomfortable with pernicious as it implies ego can be bad. I don’t think that ego is good or bad. However If we don’t see it for what it is, it can do a lot of damage. Its our becoming aware and waking up to our spiritual nature that makes a difference.
      … at least that’s where I am in my thinking these days 💛

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Val; in my saying ‘often pernicious’, this was not meant as a moral judgement upon the ego itself. I think it is unarguable that cupidity and animosity issue out of self-centredness, and that they are pernicious – i.e. harm causing – or at least are not conducive to the weal of ourselves and those who are subject to such. As you say, ‘it can do a lot of damage’, so it seems we are in fact agreeing. H ❤

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    • I hear you Carol. I used to think that ego is about someone who egotistical and big headed … but that is just of the hydra heads. We all have egos that are there to protect us for feeling vulnerable. Thank you for joining in the conversation Carol. I appreciate it. xo


  2. Ah! Val! Thank you!! It seems there are times that I try to “fight” the ego and that is the energy that keeps the ego in control! Yes, I find the ability to “let it be”…let it all be is sometimes the hardest part of this journey…yet…it is a very important part! Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day!! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • The letting be comes with trusting in a new way of being. It isn’t an easy step … and for most of us is a life long practice. Thank you for sharing Lorrie. Yes, it is a beautiful day! Enjoy yours too 💛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thought provoking wisdom by revered Swami Niranjanananda! With greatest respect to Swamilji for me who is still in the gross levels of awareness ego elimination becomes a quest. I feel only an ego free state can make me free of mind clutter, a calm mind and happiness.

    Namaste _/\_

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I enjoyed this explanation of Ego Val.. and the image fitted perfectly .. I wonder how many heads we have all had or get to get.. I hope my own is finding a more peaceful and calmer path along its journey of human experiences 🙂 ❤ Excellent post

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: The Rhythm in a Routine of No Routine | KM Huber's Blog

  6. I think this hits on that most tricky of conundrums, Val. For the seeker’s goal to be realised, then the seeker (which is an ego-construct) must die; yet the seeker (as that ego-construct, which it always is) can no more kill itself than the eye can see itself.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Nice Post. I would like to add following points.Up to best of my knowledge ego is divided into two types,one is superiority complex.Its ego of one’s power,money, knowledge,race etc.Seconly the ego of inferiority complex,say for example ,it’s feeling that I am ignorant,poor or from particular sect or race or I can’t do anything.So both the complexes are harmful in spirituality and best way is ”middle path” of Buddha.

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  8. Hi, Val. I am from India. I loved this post especially the way you talked about the ego taking in different forms. We neglect them and move on with our lives which is much harmful. Loved it.


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