How Yoga Helps You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

How Yoga Helps You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Society is pretty infatuated with IQ these days given that smart people are praised and rewarded so for it. But what about EQ?

You probably already know that IQ has everything to do with an individual’s thinking skills. EQ, on the other hand (or EI – emotional intelligence), is an individual’s capacity to become aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others.

EQ is actually more important than IQ. Think about it. Brains don’t connect you to yourself or to other people — the feelings from your heart do!

When you use self-awareness to recognize your emotions as they happen, you can find ways to regulate them so that you don’t blow up in someone’s face, spiral into misery, embarrass yourself, or end up causing a scene. Likewise, when you recognize other people’s emotions, you can empathize with them better, you can understand what motivates them, and you can communicate with them more effectively.

Unfortunately for us, our traditional childhood upbringings and schooling don’t teach us much about EQ, and we often suffer the consequences in adulthood. Yoga, however, is wonderful for improving EQ. Here’s how.

Mindfulness

“Do you have patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” – Lao Tzu

Mindfulness is an integral part of yoga. It’s paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment, on purpose and non-judgmentally. While we have no control over what happens, we can at least choose how we want to influence the way it might continue to unfold.

The same applies to EQ. We have no control over what we feel, but when we take a moment to simply notice what we’re feeling and accept it for what it is, we enter that space where we can make more clear-minded decisions about how we want to react. This, essentially, is where the somewhat illusory state of self-control comes from. Self-control is really just self-regulation supported by mindfulness.

Breathing

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” – Etty Hillesum

Emotions are physical experiences. Think sweaty palms, a shaky voice, a racing heartbeat, and tears streaming down your face. Slow, deep breathing — a practice all yogis are encouraged to maintain both on and oft mat — is a physical experience that can counteract the physical effects of negative emotions.

When it comes to EQ, deep breathing naturally calms the mind and body so that we can increase our awareness and avoid getting totally swept up in the emotion itself. If you’re interested in knowing more about how deep breathing physically affects the body, see these 5 science-backed health benefits of deep breathing.

Oneness

When yogis say “Namaste” to each other, they’re acknowledging the divine spirit inside of them that connects them and brings them together as one with the Universe. Yogis and personal growth enthusiasts often refer to this state of oneness as “the higher self” or “the highest self.”

EQ is not limited to oneself only. When we connect with another person and come to a closer state of oneness with them, as some might refer to it as “stepping into their shoes,” we can push our own stuff aside so we can tune into what that person is currently feeling. Many of us feel lost in what to say or how to act around someone who’s going through something difficult, but when we have a higher level of EQ that allows us to tune into their emotions, the right words or actions will reveal themselves.

So, what can you do to improve your EQ? Keep practicing yoga. Keeping being mindful of yourself and the world around you, keep breathing slowly and deeply, and keep tuning into others. That’s all you really need to do.

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