Opinion | Yoga improves relationships with others and ourselves

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There are a million different reasons why people choose to practise yoga. However, for many, that first foray onto the mat is often driven by pain of some sort. On a purely physical level, yoga is really effective at easing discomfort. The movement, the breathing and the cultivation of mindfulness all work their magic at relieving suffering.

Why, then, do people continue to practice when their initial reason (sore back, tight hamstrings, etc.) has been resolved? An answer frequently relayed to me — and one that I observe regularly — is that people like the version of themselves that practices yoga more than the non-practising version. Their friends and family members also like “yoga version” too.

Yoga, it seems, is also really good at improving relationships — both with ourselves and others.

A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2018) surveyed 107 yoga practitioners and found a trend of enhanced intrapersonal relationships (relationship with self) through mindfulness and self-compassion. This then led to enhanced interpersonal relationships (relationships with others) through greater compassion and feelings of social connection.

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