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How Yoga Can Teach Us to Live a Kind and Compassionate Life

26th Dec 2022 | Author - Antaranga Ray

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu

These days, we often find ourselves constantly responding to stress due to the circumstances around us, and as our bodies become habituated to distress, our internal alarm of danger goes off frequently.

But, the good news is that, while our brain may have become accustomed to being stressed, we can embrace yoga to help manage our mind and body's response. Cultivating compassion and kindness is an example of a yoga-inspired lifestyle practice that may aid us in our quest to learn how to self-regulate and lead a blissful life.

The Path to Self-Awareness:

Developing greater self-awareness of how our bodies feel, whether in asana while practicing breath control or even during meditation, is a consequence of practicing yoga. We are usually able to pay attention to the body's signals as a result of regular yoga practice. After which, we can discover different ways in which our bodies respond.

Yoga techniques like breathing, meditation, self-study, and music can progressively alter our brains to be more compassionate and kind.

The fact that compassion is a preferred choice for us and that it is a skill that can be refined with practice is supported by scientific research. For example, recalling instances of compassion and joyful emotions we have shared with others has been found to strengthen our feelings of compassion.

Learning Compassion Through Yoga:

Yoga Sutra (Patanjali), I.33: Maitri-karuna-muditopekshanam sukha-dukha-punyapunya-vishayan bhavanatash-chitta-prasadanam

The above yoga sutra states that ‘Ekagrata’, or one-pointedness of mind, is developed by expanding our capacity for compassion. By properly focusing the mind's attention on aspects that provide a meaningful respite, such as Karuna (compassion), techniques employing ekagrata can be a way to lessen the mind's needless suffering.

According to the Yoga Sutras, emotions of anger or violence can be naturally treated by practicing compassion. Through compassion, the impurity of ideas that might result in behaviors that disturb the mind is eliminated.

We cannot impose compassion on ourselves. To help us develop our ability to stay focused, we might embrace the desire to build compassion. Therefore, we might just get motivated to learn how to cultivate compassion in various situations in a genuine manner.

In Pursuit of Kindness and Compassion:

Through yoga, we could further incorporate kindness into our ideas, emotions, and actions such that it eventually becomes a way of life. One has the opportunity to be fully present in their body and mind without being judged during a yoga lesson. This is a revitalizing and healing experience to truly connect with oneself. At least during class, we intentionally steer clear of unpleasant emotions.

We continue to go back to yoga classes because we consciously recognize how crucial it is to be kind to oneself. We notice that we feel different after class and that we respond differently because we are less irritated by our surroundings. Even though we lack the words, we may already sense compassion beginning to blossom inside us.

Our yoga practice goes beyond the mat in this and several other ways. The moment we adopt a yogic perspective, we actually start to grow on the yogic journey.

Take a Step Towards the World of Compassion:

Incorporate the following movements from Viniyoga Tradition to embrace a world of kindness and compassion through yoga;

  • Feel the comforting warmth of your hands as you gently touch your heart with your right hand.
  • Open your right arms and hold your hand out toward the right as you prepare to breathe in, then follow the gesture with your eyes, ready to open up and receive from the universe. 
  • When it's time to exhale, tenderly touch your heart while once more following the motion with your gaze. Breathing repeatedly can help you connect movement, breath, and focus.
  • Embrace the beginning and concluding rhythms of life. Being out in the world but also looking within.
  • Open yourself up to receive something wholesome and take it all in.
  • Breathe in and out a few times. Allow compassion to enter your heart and soul wherever you feel secure to do so. Observe how your mind and your body react to this feeling.

Thus, simple yoga mindfulness practices can assist you in embodying compassionate emotions, which are a natural aspect of human behavior and the yogic tradition. Developing greater compassion helps us live more in accordance with our better selves as humans and give back more kindness to the world, which is in dire need of it. 

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