One of my teachers, TKV Desikachar, says “One of the best indicators that your yoga is working is that your relationships get better”. As I look back on the past 2 decades of yoga practice and reflect on my relationships throughout the years, I can say without a doubt, according to Desikachar, that my yoga is working.
We are in constant relationship, not only with ourselves (in body, breath, mind, etc), but also with other people and our environment. According to research, one of the greatest indicators of happiness, physical health and overall well-being is having close knit, thriving relationships. So it makes sense that one of the best things we can do for ourselves and others is to increase the quality of our relationships.
There was a time in my life when I was surrounded by people yet felt utterly alone. I was going through the motions of life but felt completely disconnected from my experience whether it was with food, people or the world around me. I started doing yoga and things began to become more clear… slowly, over time. It was a long and challenging road to the realization that I wanted and deserved more than lies, aggression, manipulation, fear, blame, mistrust, and dis-ease.
Before we can improve our relationship with others, it is important that we begin to understand and improve the relationship to our self. What is it that we love to do? Which foods make us feel heavy and lethargic and which foods give us energy and make us feel alive? How do we react to stress? How do we treat our body? What thoughts do we think and how do those thoughts make us feel? What do we consistently give our attention to? Asking ourselves these questions is the beginning. Rather than judge where we are and how we ended up there, we simply become aware of it. And if we’d like to be somewhere else, we have to turn around and start walking towards where we want to be. The ‘walking’ for me is practicing yoga. How I move and breathe and the thoughts that accompany me as I do so allows me to understand myself better and the more I know me, the more I know how to be me with others.
Through this intimacy that is developed with ourselves, we learn to take responsibility for our own actions and as we do, we learn how to be in better relation to others. We don’t just walk away when there is conflict, rather we learn to stay in integrity to what is true for us and accept that there is room for many ideas and beliefs and part of growth comes from standing our ground and allowing others to do the same. We also learn to not be so rigid in our own ideas and remain flexible enough to accept new ideas from others and perhaps even change our own mind. We learn to co-create with others in a meaningful way. We learn to love more deeply and have compassion for others and where they are in their journey while not losing a sense of our own self. We also gain enough strength to walk away from toxic relationships that do not improve with concerted effort over a fair amount of time.
Do you enjoy healthy, thriving, supportive relationships with yourself and others? If the answer is no, that’s OK. Most times, ease in relationships does not come easily. Becoming aware of what we want and deserve is the first step. Then we must practice making our relationships better. With practice comes progress and as we progress, it does get easier but it takes time and there will be bumps along the way. Remember to give yourself permission to be human and no matter what, keep at it. Your happiness and health depend on it.
Relationships are a big deal for me and I have seen how they impact every part of my experience. Learning to have better relationships with myself and others as well as the world around me has been and continues to be a major part of my journey. As such, I am very excited to lead a workshop on relationships this weekend. And in a just a few short weeks, Bekah and I will co-lead the 9th annual Yoga Blend Chakra Retreat on the relationship of the chakras to the psyche. Details on both of these as well as all the other wonderful workshops are available here.
Thank you for being a part of Yoga Blend!
With infinite love and gratitude…