As surely as yin compliments yang, I’m discovering that fellow yogis make some of the best of friends.
Sure, I’ve heard of tales of yoga bitchiness, amid jealousy over who has the best expensive yoga gear, in between slightly competitive posturing over Headstands and Handstands, and the odd cat fight over the hot yoga guy in the corner—not that yoga is a competitive sport!
But I’ve found no evidence of any of the above, to the contrary.
What I’ve found is a diverse group of yogis of all ages and from all backgrounds, united (yoga does mean to yoke) in their love of yoga and a common desire to be friendly off the mat.
I’ve been able to deepen friendships through the transformative experience that is teacher training, during blissful weekend yoga retreats, and through the simple act of sharing warm conversations and the odd cool drink.
I’ve connected with my soul sisters, found other meditation mammas, and felt a sense of belonging that may not be on offer at a gym class (just sayin’).
With yoga as the glue, I have become certain of the wisdom that the things we have in common are far greater than those things that set us apart. And I think that’s why yoga studios are such a great nurturing ground for friendships.
Yoga gives us the chance to practice how to be a good friend on the mat, and then lets us ‘perfect’ this in real life. Here’s why yogis make amazing friends.
1. Yoga teaches us self-compassion to be more compassionate.
In yoga practice, on and off the mat, we learn not to judge ourselves and to accept how we ‘yoga’ on any given day. We come to appreciate that yoga is not a competition with others, and it isn’t a competition with ourselves either.
When you cut yourself some slack because King Pigeon is not in your practice today (or ever, even), then it becomes easier to extend this attitude of non-judgment to others.
2. Yoga teaches us self-reliance.
Yoga is not a team sport, even though we can certainly benefit from the shared energy of our fellow classmates. Ultimately, we have to call on our own reserves of energy, focus, and peace in our physical yoga practice, our meditation, and in trying to live by yoga principles every day.
This helps you in being a self-reliant friend, because although those people you are close to will want to support you in times of difficulty, no-one likes a high-maintenance buddy who is needy all the time.
3. Yoga teaches us to support and admire others.
While yoga is all about looking internally, even with the best drishti (gaze), you may still notice how others practice asana.
When you notice with admiration another person’s strength, flexibility, or focus, it can not only help your yoga practice, it can also provide real life practice in being an attentive and supportive friend who admires others without getting jealous.
4. Yoga teaches us persistence.
Yoga is a life journey. We don’t ever master yoga, because we shouldn’t set out to master it. If you are lucky, you will always be learning and growing on your yoga path, but it takes persistence and patience—qualities we can carry over to our relationships.
While we sometimes experience great friendships that only last a season, the very best of friendships are usually shared over the long haul. They take effort and hard work sometimes, but aren’t they worth it!
5. Yoga teaches us to go deep.
In yoga, we have the chance to go deep into ourselves as we seek to understand the universal connection that unites us all.
Not saying that being a good friend is about having D&M (deep and meaningful) conversations all the time, but in using yoga as a frame for viewing life and working through problems, we can become good listeners and offer meaningful advice to our friends.
A word of caution—if you love yoga, it is entirely possible that you start to bore your non-yogi friends with the little details, or annoy them with frequent pleas to get into the practice (I could be a little guilty of this)!
Remember to talk about food, fashion (not yoga pants), kids, and what to do on the weekend or whatever—yoga may be a big part of your life, but being a good friend means accepting that we are all different.