How has yoga changed the way you interact with others?
You’ve practiced with them on YogaGlo. You’ve followed them on Facebook. You might even take their classes in person once in awhile if they travel to or live in your city. But how well do you know our YogaGlo teachers? We’ve created a new series, Ask a Yogi, so you can learn more about them by asking questions you’ve always wanted to ask.
From favorite poses and tips for beginners to deeper questions about how their practice has changed their worldview, our teachers will collectively answer a new question each week. If you have a question you’d like to “Ask a Yogi” let us know in the comments or email us at email@example.com and we’ll add your questions to the list. Today’s Ask a Yogi question is:
- Elena Bower: I’m listening.
- Kathryn Budig: It’s given me an enormous amount of patience. I used to react without much thought process and now I find myself observing, rationalizing and then speaking—hopefully always impeccably.
- Jason Crandell: I think you’re going to hear this from most people that have practiced for a long time, but, my practice has slowed me down, softened me, and helped me become more clear and responsible in everything I do. Trust me when I tell you that I can still be quick to judge and dismiss others—I still have a while before I apply for sainthood. But, on the grand scale of who I am with my personality and conditioning, I have gotten much, much more interested in understanding others and unconditionally respecting everyone that I come into contact with on a daily basis. In short, I’m nicer than I used to be and I try to take time to witness other people instead of just blazing around in my own self-absorption (sometimes successfully, sometimes not). With a baby on the way, this is one of the first things that is coming up for me when I think about parenting. That is, how I will influence our girl to interact with others and perceive herself in relation to others. When it comes down to it, I want her to know that there is no one on the planet that is above her and no one that is below her. Another aspect of how my practice has effected my interaction with others is that I’m much more direct than I ever used to be—especially if I have a need or a conflict. I’m able to speak more honestly and clearly in various situations—and, I’m more able to actually listen to what others are saying without being defensive or preparing some sort of counter-point.
- Tiffany Cruikshank: I would love to say yoga has made me a perfect human being, but I still do stupid things. To me, yoga isn’t about being perfect, it’s about starting to look at how we’re living. Not to be “good” but to make sure it aligns with what we want in life.
- Steven Espinosa: I honestly feel this is one of the most important revelations and transformations yoga has to offer us as individuals. Before I started practicing yoga, I was always very focused on my career and very hard on myself. Eventually, when everything in my life fell apart and I discovered yoga, it taught me how to be more kind and gentle with myself. That I needn’t push myself so hard all the time and learn to be more compassionate. As I learned these kind of lessons over time, I realized I was treating others in the same way. I discovered that I wasn’t “reacting” in stressful situations the same way anymore and found myself really listening more which was huge for me.
- Marc Holzman: Ah yes, progress on the path. Or, as Sally Kempton coins it: The Raising of our Spiritual IQ. I maintain a strong, daily meditation practice, and I believe the fruits of my sadhana are finally paying off. Here’s what I am noticing: I’m happier when I am not trying to control everyone or every situation, I’m getting much better at not seeking everyone’s approval, more and more I respect the nobility of life, less afraid to speak the truth and know how to do it gently, cultivating more of a kinship and concern for other people, animals, and the earth, I’m way less reactive. This doesn’t mean that I am above getting smacked with feelings of rage, envy, self-doubt, or a host of other shadowy human emotions, but my turnaround time for processing them is a hell of a lot faster than it was ten years ago.
- Amy Ippoliti: Yoga makes me more present. And presence is so key when interacting with others. Good listening, eye contact, full engagement.
- Tara Judelle: It has changed everything. Yoga has taught me that “others” are an expression of the “Self”. We are one. It has allowed me to remember my true self, which is formed from an energy that is universal. We call that energy love. That love has grown inside of me to such a magnitude that I treat “others” from that space.
- Dice lida-Klein: Yoga has taught me to be less reactive to others judgements and to be more compassionate to those around me. If I can understand my reactions and my triggers, I can then be a better person for myself and for others.
- Noah Mazé: Yoga is first and foremost the opportunity and practice of interacting with myself. It enables me to attune body and mind and heart, and to clarify my intention and to put that into action. It is a practice of self care and self love. From there, my interactions with others are always more skillful, as I interact with others from a place of my own integration and clarity. I very consciously transfer and translate my practice on the mat to my practice off the mat; into relationships, into my work etc.
- Kia Miller: I live by yogic philosophy, practicing the 8 limbed path which outlines a strong moral and ethical code for how to interact with all aspects of life. The practice of yoga has made me more present in all my interactions. I am continually aiming to see the Divine in all, even in challenging situations and to spread the light!
- Christina Sell: Well, it has and it hasn’t. I have been doing yoga since I was in my 20s and so a lot of other things have influenced my interactions as well- like therapy, growing up, being married, traveling, etc. It is a bit hard to say what was the yoga and what was life’s lessons. For me, yoga is an integrated part of my life and some days I draw very naturally on its positive lessons and other days I forget to “practice” in the middle of my interactions. I don’t have a story that does, “And then I started yoga and I had a radical shift.” Yoga has been there through some pretty hard times and some pretty wonderful times in my life. It has definitely helped me be healthier, stronger and more resilient. However, yoga has not made me someone I am not or turned me into some new-and-improved version of myself. I still have lots of opinions, I still interrupt people and forget to wait my turn to speak, I still catch myself jumping to conclusions and being impatient and so on. In fact, training my awareness through yoga has been like shining a bright light on my best and worst qualities. What having a steady and long-term practice has given me, however, is the ability to be more compassionate with myself when I am in the less-than-atractive aspects of my personality. Having said that, I also think I suffer my shortcomings more acutely because I am a yogi. In a certain way, yoga gives me a very high standard to reach for in my interactions so while it has helped me for sure, it has also given me these high expectations to meet, and many times fall short of. I hope this doesn’t sound bleak because it doesn’t feel that way to me at all. To me, yoga is simply a practice that lives in the midst of all of those ups and down and I find it incredibly wonderful to have something like that in my life.
- Stephanie Snyder: I could probably write an entire book to describe how yoga has changed my interaction with others. But in the interest of bloggy-ness I’ll keep it simple. Yoga has given me insight. This is the most powerful tool for me and one of the greatest benefits of the practice. Insight comes through all parts of the practice, but particularly through what Patanjali outlines in the Yoga Sutras as Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is comprised of the last 3 Niyamas: Tapas (the burn of change towards good), Svadhyaya (study of self and texts), and Isvara-Pranidhana (surrender that follows hard work). I encourage you to look into this if you are interested. Fundamentally, the practice asks us to turn towards the places of tension in our lives and ask ourselves how can we relieve the tension in a way that is both appropriate and honest. Of course we do this on the mat in a very physical way and then we are to bring this skillfulness into relationships with ourselves and others. There is another way the Sutras tell us exactly how to be in relationships with others. I find it so useful that I require my teacher trainees to memorize it, Sutra 1.33: “Maitri-Karuna-Muditopeksanam Sukha-Duhkha-Punyapunya-Visayanam Bhavanatas Citta-Prasadanam.” It says, “By cultivating an attitude of friendship towards those who are happy, compassion towards those in distress, joy towards those who are virtuous, and equanimity towards those who are nonvirtous, lucidity arises in the mind”. I fall back on this when I’m not sure intuitively how to handle a situation or when I feel contracted in a relationship. And if you are not interested in the Sutras or the deeper philosophical implications of the practice I’ll leave you with this: Compassion, when in doubt- how can I be compassionate? This is always the most fruitful question I can ask myself in any relationship. Can I always pull it off? Hardly ever. Do I do my best to try? Yes. And I’ll tell you that the teaspoon of compassion I have been able to cultivate has been enough to change my whole life.
- Jo Tastula: Over time it just happens that your whole life becomes your yoga practice. You begin to tend to all of your relationships with the same awareness and sensitivity as you would a difficult posture. There is more of a reverence and respect for life itself and the mystery of life. This has been the healing balm of my life; a deep knowing that all relationships both with ourselves, each other, the plants, the elements… it’s all a cosmic dance and an opportunity to wake up and play. Even when life gets hard, there is opportunity for healing and more love.
- Harshada Wagner: Because I have gained an understanding of my own deeper dimensions through yoga (here I mean yoga in the broadest sense), I can’t help but be aware of the deeper dimensions in the people I interact with. People are no longer just 2 dimensional characters, they are Souls, rich incarnations. Whoever they are an however they are being, I relate to them as many faceted beings worthy of respect and love. This might all sound cliche- but this is my experience.