Pause, Reflect, Recognize

What does emotional intelligence have to do with yoga (or vice versa)?

Quite a lot, actually!

When I was a kid, my family described me as “uptight.” I’d grow quiet as the level of alcohol consumption increased on any given night—this was the evidence for being “uptight.”

Only in my 30s was I able to label my emotions and recognize that my “uptightness” was someone else’s projection on me. And I became aware of the amount of emotional work I was doing to mask what I really felt, so that I would not be judged by others for feeling a certain way.

I’m not alone here, right?

In fact, this experience is so common that Marc Brackett PhD has devoted his life to exploring the the role of emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. Learn more from his book, Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Society Thrive.

The capacity to recognize and label emotions is vital. When we are able to recognize how we feel then we can dig into our toolbox and find something to help us self-regulate and build resilience.

Marc Brackett’s contribution to this process has been to develop RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning in schools that is easily applicable to non-children, and in fact is used in corporate and organizational settings to build emotional intelligence skills. And here’s the connection to yoga.

Recognizing emotions requires us to sit, feel, and see what is going on internally. To cultivate stillness and quiet the busy mind.

To pause, reflect, recognize…

And through the “helpful strategies” of breathing practice and meditation we learn to calm the parasympathetic nervous system and self-regulate our emotions.

Now, to my mind, nothing helps to quiet the mind quite like restorative yoga. Show up with props, drop in, reset. Try it for yourself (free) in September.