By Amber DeBarge RYT-200 www.cayayoga.com
and Catherine Dietz, Heal Your Life® Coach http://healthypathtolove.com/
Perspective of a Yoga Teacher
By Amber DeBarge RYT-200, Come As You Are Yoga
What does yoga have to do with your relationships and what do your relationships have to do with your physical health? It’s easy to draw a parallel between physical yoga and physical health, but now let’s explore how Relationship plays a key role in your physical health.
Robert Birnberg from The Breathing Space (www.longexhale.com) discusses that the only way to know if your yoga is working is to determine if your relationships are improving. When your body is comfortable, your mind will quiet. As a result of a quiet mind you can focus, act, and think proactively instead of reacting. In an environment where you’re able to think before you speak or react your relationships have no choice but to improve!
Have you heard the expression “let your heart be your guide”? Could it be possible that cardiovascular or heart problems might be a symptom or warning that something greater is amiss?
Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Medical Publications reports that it’s not just having relationships and contact with others but the quality of those relationships that determine or influence longterm health. So by improving your relationships you will have a healthier heart and improved overall health. In addition, better relationships will usually result in less stress (less stress hormones) and more support.
Let’s say you are already convinced that the strength and ease of your relationships have a big impact on your health; how do you go about improving your relationships? And if diet and exercise aren’t the end-all-be-all to health (or specifically cardio vascular health), how do we make the changes we need to ensure that we get to live long healthy, happy lives? Yoga has a lot to say about life as a whole. As a philosophy for life, yoga doesn’t just focus on one aspect of a person. Here are the first four limbs, or main areas of focus, defined by yogic philosophy:
1. Be moral and have a set of values you follow. Be kind to others. Be careful with your words and thoughts towards others.
2. Know yourself. Take care of yourself. Make sure that your needs are being met, that you are clean, have food, take care of your mental health and surround yourself with people who treat you well.
3. Move and exercise. Have a physical practice or ritual that is designed to balance or support your daily life.
4. Breathe. Put some effort and attention toward your breath.
Above are four of the eight limbs of yoga. We can think of the first limb of “being moral” as a counterpart to the golden rule — we see something like this in nearly every philosophy for living. “Knowing yourself” (number two) is often downplayed and not as easily nurtured in various communities or settings, which makes it even more important to master. “Move and exercise” (number three) is emphasized a lot in our aesthetically focused society – but the daily, ritual, or practice aspect should not be overlooked. It’s also important to remember that exercise is only mentioned as one of the eight limbs, reminding us there are many factors that go into yogic practice. And finally, “breathing” (number four) is a simple and great way to make significant changes in your life. Your breath is a powerful tool that can be used to clear your mind, calm your nervous system, and energize your body. Because your breath is such a versatile and powerful tool, it can help you create the space you need to make other changes in your life.
One of the most miraculous things about yoga is that no matter where you start, you will see movement ,or growth, which will ultimately affect your relationships and your health. To get the most out of your practice and to reap as many benefits out of yoga, it is highly recommended that you have a teacher. A teacher acts as a mirror to help you see yourself more clearly. A teacher might be one person you work with for many years, or you may seek out someone to work with on a specific goal, but having an experienced, objective guide can help you create success faster than on your own.
So if you have been struggling with poor health or if the solutions of diet and exercise haven’t proven to do enough to get you to your goal, try yoga! Treat others well, tend to your close relationships, take good care of your appearance and your mental health, get out and move and take deep breaths. Your relationships and your physical health will thank you!
Perspective of a Relationship Coach
By Catherine Dietz, Heal Your Life® Coach (A Healthy Path to Love)
As a Relationship Coach who specializes in teaching women how to stay true to their heart when struggling with the question of ‘should I stay or should I go?’, I believe in the power of yoga and how it helps you get in touch with your heart’s desires.
When I began my yoga practice in 2002, I had no idea how much it would influence the quality of my life and relationships, and I highly encourage it to anyone who wants to consciously participate in their life in a meaningful way. When we are on purpose, our lives unfold with much more ease and grace.
I appreciate the points of yogic philosophy that Amber shares here, and I’d love to offer my perspective and describe how applying these main areas of focus can help you create a more loving and honest relationship with yourself and others.
1. Be moral and have a set of values you follow. One of the first and most important steps I teach my clients is how to get clear on what matters most. What core values do you practice in your life that help you feel good about yourself and how you’re ‘showing up’? Most people agree that honesty is a must, but then find themselves not being honest about how they truly feel due to fear of upsetting others. Then, they feel out of integrity and bad about themselves because they’re dismissing their true feelings and not being authentic in their relationships. The solution is to make an agreement with yourself about your own set of values to follow, and then stay committed to your agreement, and don’t abandon yourself for the sake of others. How other people respond is not your responsibility. But how you respond to your own agreements is, and it directly influences your quality of life.
2. Know yourself. Relationship conflict is one of our greatest teachers and gives us ample opportunity to reveal who we really are. What still triggers you, and how do you respond when someone upsets you? Do you blow up and defend yourself? Do you try to knock the other person down a peg or two with vicious words? Do you give them the silent treatment? If so, are these reactions aligned with your core values? Most likely not. So, catch yourself. Acknowledge when you’re acting out of integrity. And then choose to respond differently the next time. Apologize when you know you’ve been disrespectful, even if the other person isn’t willing to apologize…because this is what feels right for you. If you care more about being right than feeling good about yourself, you’ll continue to attract situations that trigger the need to prove yourself. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone! And when you know yourself, and love yourself enough to make changes when needed, you have much more peace of mind.
3. Move and exercise. We all know that moving and exercising our bodies feels good and helps build flexibility and strength. But what about our minds and emotions? Exercising your mind and being conscious about your thoughts helps you move to a new level of understanding. And when you apply that new understanding to your relationships, you move through challenges with greater ease. Exercising your right to express your emotions – rather than keeping them stuffed down like so many of us have been conditioned to do – helps you move through negative emotions easier and faster, and helps you feel lighter and more joyful. Our thoughts feed our emotions, and our emotions feed our thoughts. So be mindful about the direction your thoughts and emotions are moving toward, and exercise your ability to change directions if needed.
4. Breathe. As Amber already shared, your breath is a powerful tool that can be used to clear your mind, calm your nervous system, and energize your body. And you can choose to consciously connect with your breath wherever you are! If you’re feeling stressed out about your relationship, your job, or anything else, it may feel like you’re suffocating because that stress is not allowing your breath to move through you. So, the next time you feel stressed, catch yourself. Acknowledge that you’re feeling stressed and then consciously breathe by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Feel the tension melt with each breath, and breathe this way until you feel better. It usually takes only 3 or 4 breaths to notice a difference and it doesn’t take much time at all. Use the power of your breath to your advantage!
One of the many things I love about yoga is the beautiful way it ties together mind, body and Spirit. It’s about S T R E T C H I N G your mind and your body. It’s about applying focus, which helps you align with Spirit. It’s about taking care of yourself and benefitting from the side effects of a healthier relationship with yourself and others.
If your romantic relationship, or any other area of your life, feels like it’s working against you instead of for you, one of the most empowering things you can do is work on your relationship with yourself. Be curious instead of serious. Open your mind and heart to the opportunity for personal growth. And enjoy the journey!