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Cultivating Healthy Relationships: Yoga to the Rescue

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Ram

Cultivating Healthy Relationships: Yoga to the Rescue

Jelly Fish by Melina Meza

It is difficult to live in complete isolation. We all need the support of other people around us to survive. So we develop relationships with others whether on a personal, professional, or commercial level. Thus, interpersonal relationships have a critical role to play in our lives. In order to lead a happy, smooth life, an individual must have healthy relationships with others around him. In other words, the secret to a happy life is a healthy relationship. We all have a natural drive toward establishing relationships and in these relationships we long for acceptance. A healthy relationship is one in which all the individuals feel that they matter. A healthy relationship is characterized by:
  • harmony among all individuals
  • a natural desire to foster additional relationships
  • an effective and harmonious communication between individuals in the relationship
  • a tendency to be patient with or tolerant of the opinions or practices of others
  • increased sense of belonging and worth
  • increased sense of enthusiasm to nurture the growth-fostering relationship
In contrast, an unhealthy relationship is damaging to one or more individuals physically, mentally or emotionally. Unhealthy relationship is generally characterized by mistrust, emotional upheaval, arguments, jealousy and possibly cheating, among others. When these issues begin to dominate the majority of the time spent together, the relationship turns unhealthy. All the above-mentioned issues invoke a common underlying theme “himsa” or violence. Unhealthy relationship can trigger violence that appears in so many forms leading to physical and mental stress. The stress of being in an unhealthy relationship has the obvious physical and psychological impact: it often increases one’s vulnerability to illness and may cause the victim to be more susceptible to disease. Battered victims experience depression, feelings of low self-esteem and helplessness coupled with somatic complaints. Their ability to trust and form emotional attachments is severely impacted.
Empathy, trust, patience, faith and compassion are some excellent tools to help cultivate healthy relationships, as these tools allow us to accept events as they are and act with an open and loving heart. The tools also replace violent tendencies with kindness, acceptance and love. Practicing them on oneself helps to cultivate the same feelings towards others. Furthermore, establishing relationships with individuals who have access to natural inner peace and a non-harming attitude can lead to a stronger ability to give up hostilities, ill will or aggression in return. It is a natural process that everyone experiences in the presence of a truly non-violent person. Relational-cultural therapy (RCT) - established by mental health professionals - uses the above-mentioned tools to nurture and sustain healthy relationships.
Among other interventional modalities, yoga could very well be helpful in making interpersonal relationships healthy, nurturing and strong. Not surprisingly, a recent research study entitled “I am a Nice Person When I Do Yoga: A Qualitative Analysis of How Yoga Affects Relationships” concludes that yoga improves and sustains interpersonal relationships as it makes the practitioners more patient, kind, mindful, and self-aware. In the study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, Ross, et al used content analysis (data drawn from verbal, print, or electronic communications are analyzed for the purpose of condensing, describing, and ultimately categorizing specific phenomenon) on a large cross-sectional anonymous survey of yoga practitioners (N = 1,067). After using suitable inclusion and exclusion criteria, 4,300 yoga practitioners were randomly selected from all major regions of the country. All of them received an online survey asking detailed questions about their yoga practice, health status, dietary habits, illness and relationship status. In addition to attributing yoga to a healthy dietary status and perfect health, 67% of the practitioners agreed or strongly agreed that yoga improved their inter-personal relationships as well.
The major conclusions drawn from this content analysis study were:
  • Yoga leads to personal transformation by cultivating several psychological traits, including insight, self-awareness, mindfulness, calmness, peacefulness, happiness, kindness, tolerance, respect, and compassion.
  • Yoga increases social interaction and decreases feelings of social isolation.
  • Yoga provides coping mechanisms to weather relationship difficulties and losses.
  • Yoga leads to spiritual transcendence and connection.
Based on the answers and final analysis, the authors concluded, “Because social support is an important predictor of morbidity and mortality and yoga practice contributes to social support, yoga could be beneficial for populations at risk for social isolation, such as those who are elderly, bereaved, or depressed as well as individuals undergoing interpersonal crises.”
The above scientific study is definitely an eye-opener and I would encourage everyone to read this wonderful piece of science. Now if I have to heal the wounds of my relationships, I do not need to go far. My yoga mat and the practice from it will serve as the balm!!

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