Yoga and Emotional Intelligence


By: Gaia Staff  |  October 29, 2015

Recently, in one of my journals, I read an article by a psychologist who had stumbled across an obscure research project involving emotional intelligence. I had first been exposed to the concept of emotional intelligence when I was working on my master’s degree back in the nineties. As a yoga teacher, emotional intelligence as a basis for a balanced life seemed intuitive.

The premise of the research is basically that our emotional intelligence is as important, if not more important, than our intellectual IQ. Without a strong emotional foundation, intelligence alone was not enough to create a successful and balanced life.

There are four components to emotional intelligence. The first is self-awareness or knowing what you are feeling and why. The second is self-management or the ability to use your self-awareness to get better at handling your impulses and disruptive emotions. The third component is empathy or the ability to sense how others are feeling; and the fourth component is being skilled at establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Without self-awareness, self-management, empathy and relationship skills, even the most intelligent person would find it difficult to live a healthy and stable life. That is because we are all dependent upon each other and emotions and feelings are a major part of human existence.

In yoga emotional turmoil is often referred to as “monkey mind.” This is an expression used to describe the jumping and scattering of our mind due to emotional instability. In life, it is all too easy for us to lose our emotional balance and end up leaping from one emotion to another.

Who doesn’t get pulled into drama and emotions or caught up in games, competition and fighting? How about sadness and fear? We call this being tossed around in the world. In the ideal, we are in the world, but not of the world. That means we are aware of our presence while being in control of our thoughts, words and actions. We have compassion for all of life and we relate to others with a sense of complete understanding. We appear in the world, but are not perturbed or thrown off balance by the events of life. Once this is achieved an individual is said to be liberated or free of the monkey mind.

Now, it is not that a person must go away and live the life of a hermit in order to achieve liberation. It means to live fully in the world, while maintaining a sense of emotional balance. It’s about control and reaction. If you learn to control your mind, you control everything. This is yoga intelligence. How do we achieve this? Practice; nothing in life is achieved without practice.

Sometimes people try to run away and hide and even renounce life to be free of life’s turmoil. But you can never run away. Without emotional intellectual we can remove ourselves physically, but the mind – its thoughts and emotions – go with us forever.

As the saying goes, “you take it with you wherever you go.”

Intellect in yoga is really mental attitude. “As the mind, so the person.” It is not about changing the outside world. It is about changing your attitude towards things. If you gain control over your emotions you will never be tossed about by the outside world. Emotional intelligence reminds us that there is nothing wrong with the world; the problems begin and end within our own minds.

We can try to measure the quality of life with a high IQ, but without awareness, control, empathy and the ability to relate the mathematical equation that measures our intellect, we miss the mark. The prize does not always go to the smartest, but it does more times than not, go to the one who has the ability to keep a focus; and keeping a focus requires the application of the four components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, empathy and relating.

Therefore, with all things in life, be aware and fully understand their nature. Manage them with empathy and understanding, and then rise above the turmoil and be at peace. With awareness you begin to understand yourself. When you understand yourself you free yourself from the entanglement of worldly emotions. In this you will find a sense of balance and you will achieve the pinnacle of yoga and emotional intelligence: peace.


 

Doctor Lynn

Doctor Lynn holds a Ph.D. in Natural Health and an Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine. She created Kosmos, a continuing education provider for health and fitness professionals. She was the corporate educator for an aromatherapy company. She traveled and lectured nationally and internationally. She has written courses and books in the area of mind-body-spirit integration, yoga and natural health, and its application to traditional health and fitness. She produced a weekly talk radio show about anti-aging and alternative medicine. She is a published author for an international nutrition company. She is a contributing writer to the Journal of Longevity and an advisory board member. She has been a speaker at the Deepak Chopra Center.
Doctor Lynn is a faculty member to the American Council on Exercise and has presented at conventions, including the Motion Picture Wellness Center and East Coast Alliance. She has been featured in Shape, SELF, Red Book, and other major publications. She is a contributing writer to the Huffington Post. Dr. Lynn is certified by Yoga Alliance, Spin, ACE and IAYT. She teaches anti-aging /fusion fitness classes. Her latest DVD, Aero*boga™ is a unique workout promoting fitness and health. It comes with a companion book, Spiritual Fitness. Originally from Maine, she now resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Dan.
Website: www.doctorlynn.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DrLynnAnderson
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/doctorlynn/feed


 

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