How Yoga can save your relationships / by Anita Cheung

We hear so many great lessons in our yoga classes and yet we often forget to apply them in our everyday relationships. Things like going with the flow and accepting things as they are sound wonderful in theory, but when we have to apply them to situations- like when someone we love moves away-, it's an entirely different story. We say we know all about compassion and forgiveness- until our best friend starts dating our crush.

With all the hallmark hype around Valentines Day, take a minute to detach from all the pink, the flowers, and the chocolates, and take a look at who you are in relationships. I once received some sage advice, which I will pass along now: 

"Inconsistency is junk food for the soul." 

Yup. Junk Food. Maybe it's convenient at the time, or maybe it's temporarily satisfying, but at the end of it all, it simply isn't nourishing and can actually be quite toxic. 

What do we mean by inconsistency? 

Betty is the picture perfect young twenty-something-year-old. She doesn't party (too) hard, she has a close group of friends, never gossips about other girls, graduated with honours, volunteers in her community and is an athlete all around. If you were to ask anyone at school or work about Betty, they would say she's "so sweet" or "always smiling" or maybe even "a great friend and role model". 

However, Betty's parents would be incredulous that anyone could describe their daughter that way. This is because every night when she goes home, she is argumentative, stubborn, and cold. Betty resents her parents, thinks they simply don't understand her, and has absolutely no desire to foster a relationship with them. This is inconsistency. 

Or, perhaps it's not her parents that she is inconsistent with. Maybe Betty always gets into fights with her boyfriend. She yells at him and throws pillows at him when she gets angry. She feels jealous and at the same time hates herself for falling into the trap of "needy girlfriend". 

So what's the deal? How can we be talking about the same girl? Why does confident Betty have low self esteem in her relationship with her boyfriend? Why is the sweet girl so cold to her parents? The reason is- she is inconsistent. 

The truth is is that Betty wants to be a good person. She works hard to be that person at school, at work, and with her friends. Just like those relationships, our relationships at home and our romantic relationships require just as much work, compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance as those with "the general public". Inconsistency is junk food for the soul because it is convenient to be inconsistent when we're tired. When things go awry, we point fingers at others who are "supposed" to love us no matter what. We get lazy. We start to slide. We stop seeing these important people in our lives as people. The negative aspects of one or two relationships only act to wear us down as they trickle into other parts of our lives.  

So where does yoga come in amongst all this?

When we take yoga classes, we are taught lessons about acceptance, commitment, and compassion. We are taught to observe our reactions and observe our emotions- which we practice within the hour long session. Rather than allowing these reactions and emotions take over, we notice them- without passing judgement- until they subside. We are great at being compassionate, accepting and committed people when we're talking about our yoga practice.

What we need to do now is we need to learn to take who we are on the mat and apply it to who we are in life. If we want harmony, we need to learn to be consistent in all our relationships. We need to approach each relationship- whether it's with a stranger, a new friend, or an old friend,- with the same level of acceptance, commitment, and compassion.



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