Now before I draw connections between Emotional Intelligence and yoga, I have to confess that yoga has never been on my radar. I’m a product of east Texas: you know the type–meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It’s a world where “out of the ordinary” is to be avoided. And even though I’ve evolved from my youth, yoga was NOT on my radar.
But then again the life I’ve lived for the past 12 years or so wasn’t on my radar, either!! So back to yoga. We decided to try it because we’ve seen our parents need more and more medications to get through the aging process. Paul and I decided we wanted to avoid “better life through pharmacology” as long as possible. Quite simply, we decided we wanted to see if we could postpone some of the vestiges of aging through natural methods. We also began to consider that 6000 years of good press about yoga and staying flexible couldn’t all be wrong. It still felt like a leap into the unknown for a “meatloaf and mashed potatoes” kind of girl.
What I didn’t expect was to discover a strong connection between yoga and Emotional Intelligence. I’ve been teaching and measuring emotional intelligence in my work for the last dozen years. One of my mantras is “self-awareness is necessary for self-management.” Shoot I can even give you the percentages of how likely you are to be successful if you are self-aware (vs. if you aren’t)!
Back to yoga — what I DIDN’T expect was the physical manifestation of self-awareness I experienced. There it was – first I got the instruction to be self-aware. “Try the movement – listen to your body – be self-aware” followed by “do as much as you can – listen to your body – self manage.” And as I struggled with the challenge of doing what looks easy when someone else does it, I became more and more aware of my consciousness, my body and how it shows up in leadership. Just as I had been teaching.
It was amazing to experience the lessons of academic research being played out in a discipline that is thousands of years old. It was funny to realize how long yoga been trusted and practiced by many. And, yet, how many of us have viewed yoga with a bit of suspicion by people like me? I suspect it’s very much like emotional intelligence: trusted by many and viewed with suspicion by those who think that “touchy, feely stuff” is for wimps not REAL leaders.
Well I am here to tell you that emotional intelligence is not touchy–feely. It is complex relationship management. And it is no more for wimps than is yoga. Here’s to self-awareness!