Healthy Lifestyle

How to Not Burnout as a Yoga Teacher

How to Not Burnout as a Yoga Teacher 1080 1080 Nate Guadagni

In the US there are over 100,000 yoga teachers registered with the Yoga Alliance and countless more world wide.

Since I began teaching yoga full time 15 years ago, I have experienced and seen the incredible gifts that teachers and students can gain from learning, practicing and sharing yoga.

While many instructors see teaching as a fun side hustle or a hobby, there are the many who have found their calling and made it a career.

Whether you are dabbling or devoted, all yoga teachers must build their practice and career upon these 3 Pillars if they are to experience fulfillment and sustainable growth.

These 3 Pillars are:

  1. Learning from other Teachers

  2. Maintaining a Personal Practice

  3. Teaching and Sharing with Others

Each Pillar positively supports and enriches the others. You apply what you learn into practice, then teach others.

The synergy that is created from this virtuous cycle leads to joyful, sustainable growth and balance.

Although there are countless benefits we will receive from our teachers, our practice and our students, I have found there are 3 Gifts that stand out; Knowledge, Power and Awareness.

These Gifts are borne from the interaction between two of the Pillars and each come with a Teacher Archetype.

The light of each of these Gifts also casts one of the 3 Shadows.

The Philosopher Archetype enjoys learning from a teacher, and teaching others, yet lacks the Pillar of Personal Practice.

The Philosopher gains the gift of Knowledge and with it the potential Shadow of Hypocrisy.

Most people start yoga by finding an inspiring teacher.

They embody the values and qualities we seek for ourselves. They have a magnetic energy and presence that makes us want to spend time with them and to emulate them.

They inspire us, challenge us and care about us, and impart their teachings to us.

We follow them to become a yoga teacher and begin to share what we have learned with our own students.

However, if we begin to neglect our Personal Practice and only teach from knowledge we will soon hear the hollowness in our words. We lose presence and repeat phrases and cues mindlessly and forget the inquisitiveness and curiosity we had when it was new. We will find that we have a teacher persona but when we go home and there are no teachers or students around, we are a completely different person.

The feeling of Imposter Syndrome will emerge and Hypocrisy will set in.

The antidote to this Shadow is to immediately recommit to our own personal practices and engage in the solitary inner work that no one else can do with or for us.

The Monk Archetype loves learning from a teacher, and has a dedicated personal practice, yet does not teach or share with others.

The Monk gains the gift of Empowerment and with it the potential Shadow of Indifference.

There are those who have the great fortune to have found a worthy teacher and have dedicated themselves to a regular and disciplined personal practice.

They have gained physical, mental and emotional power and have shored up insecurities and weaknesses gaining tremendous confidence and impressive skills.

However, one who accumulates too much power and does not share it will eventually suffer from callousness, self absorption and indifference.

They will become blind to the suffering of others and hoard these gifts for themself.

The antidote to this Shadow is to pay the teachings forward and to share their own personal stories of growth. Students thrive not only on the potent legacy of yoga, they crave to know how these teachings have shaped the personal life of their teacher as well.

The Guru Archetype has a dedicated personal practice, teaches other regularly and effectively but no longer has any Teachers.

The Guru gains the gift of Awareness and with it the Shadow of Egotism.

The profound awareness that comes from a deep and dedicated personal practice creates a magnetic power that draws students.

They see others to the depth that they have seen themselves and can look through the facade and defenses others hide behind.

They tap into a well of inner wisdom and insight that illuminates precise and subtle awareness into the bodies and minds of their students and they can impart powerful healing and transformation.

Their insights and awareness allow them to innovate and create new systems while shedding old rules and they often challenge the status quo.

They may become controversial leaders and many of them are revered as Gurus.

However, as the status and the respect for this teacher grows, they often will no longer see the need to have their own teacher, feeling that they have found the Truth and have nothing more to learn.

Instead of feeding upon the guidance and teachings from other leaders, they consume the reverence and resources of their students and can become intoxicated.

We have all seen the heartbreaking fall from grace when this Shadow of Egotism consumes Gurus and teachers.

The antidote to feeling that you are the most Enlightened person you know is to immediately seek out those you can respect as a teacher. Having the humility to maintain a connection to other teachers and peers is essential to balancing this leadership position.

Neglecting one of the 3 Pillars invites the 3 Shadows, yet neglecting 2 of the Pillars creates these 3 Tragedies.


1. The Over-Achiever Tragedy : Burnout

The first and most common of the 3 Tragedies is what happens when a teacher becomes so consumed with teaching classes, they lose their own personal practice and they lose connection with their teachers. This leads to Burnout.

It is a very sad situation indeed because it is precisely the love that this teacher has for their students that keeps them going.

They would give their time, energy and even work for free if it means they can help someone else, and they often do.

Even though they extoll the benefits of self care, they can’t remember the last time they said no to others and yes to themselves.

Without the energetic and inspirational input from other teachers they will begin to feel like broken records teaching the same sequences and unable to imbue passion or excitement. Without the personal experience to find energetic and spiritual alignment their timing and instincts will be off. Their words will say one thing and their bodies the opposite. 

A vicious cycle ensues and due to the drain of energy and inspiration, students will disperse and classes will dwindle. This will then require the teacher to either teach more classes or spend more time on marketing, which can further drain their resources until one day the willpower runs out.

Those approaching Burnout must immediately recommit to a personal practice and find either a teacher or a community of peers for support and inspiration.

It is ideal if this is a relationship with a personal connection, however a one way relationship with an online teacher is better than none.

It would also be wise to seek guidance and inspiration in other fields and disciplines. Your personal practice will be influenced by those whom you follow and will enrich what you teach.

2. The Eternal Student Tragedy : Delusion

The next of the 3 Tragedies is what happens when a teacher becomes so consumed with learning, they neglect their own personal practice and they rarely teach. This leads to Delusion.

The teachings never pass through the tests of real life or real people, remaining trapped in the head as concepts only.

Eternal Students often collect certificates and take many workshops, retreats and personal sessions yet rarely apply this knowledge.

Because they don’t put into practice what they learn, they don’t embody the teachings and lack confidence to teach.

Their minds are full of good information, yet they cannot attract their own students because they lack the magnetic power that comes from a dedicated personal practice.

Teachings that are memorized yet not embodied cannot be delivered with presence or impact.

Their desire for approval and recognition blocks their ability to sense their own gifts and intuition.

They would benefit from the words of the Bhagadva Gita;

“It is better to live your own dharma imperfectly, than to live someone else’s dharma perfectly.”

Acceptance and self awareness are antidotes to Delusion and can be found first in a dedicated Personal Practice. 

This would be the first Pillar to establish before seeking students to teach.

How long will it take and how will you know when you’re ready to teach?

As the old saying goes “When the student is ready, the teacher appears,”

However, it also follows that “When the teacher is ready, the students appear.”


3. The Lone Wolf Tragedy : Stagnation

The last of the 3 Tragedies is what happens when a teacher becomes so absorbed in their own practices they cut ties with their teachers and students. This leads to Stagnation.

Because this Tragedy does not involve others, it does not leave a damaging effect on the community at large, rather an invisible missing piece.

It may not even appear tragic because in the absence of students or their own teacher, this teacher’s potential is not realized, and therefore isn’t missed.

Often the isolation this person seeks is because of a painful past leading to ruptured trust and/or the fear of being seen. 

They are like a lightbulb still in the box, filled with potential brilliance, yet fragile and disconnected.

They are suspicious of leaders and teachers. They avoid egomaniacs and sniff out charlatans immediately.

Because their rituals have been a life preserver they will not easily part with it until they are sure they are on dry land.

They have very high standards and it will take a special teacher, worthy of trust and tempered with integrity to inspire this person to share their gifts.

The discipline and persistence that has been honed from a deeply personal and often inexplicable spiritual devotion will make this teacher particularly powerful and influential once they are ready to embrace and share their gifts. 

It is actually an imperative because the nature of spirituality is evolution and growth and they cannot suppress it forever without consequence.

As Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of Thomas:

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

To the degree of this teacher’s potential, this will be the degree of their suffering to withhold it.

This teacher must begin the search for a worthy teacher and be willing to accept their influence. 

Because the idea of teaching others feels too much like controlling them, they shouldn’t try to teach. Instead just be willing to share themselves and their practices with others. Let those who come have their own experience and gain their own lessons. 

The art of not teaching can often be the most powerful teaching of all.

Hopefully the 3 Pillars can be a template to help diagnose and treat the common pitfalls and traps that will inevitably face teachers on their path.

There will certainly be times when you neglect one, two or even all three of these Pillars, I know I have.

Although your practice and career can survive temporary lapses in these relationships, the 3 Shadows and 3 Tragedies will come from neglecting them long term.

Once recognizing the problem, we can begin to introduce solutions and rebalance.

The gifts that teaching yoga can provide are too great to give up easily. I encourage you to reflect on these 3 Pillars when teaching no longer seems to give you the benefits it once did.

May you experience the true Joy, Growth and Freedom that teaching in harmony with the 3 Pillars can provide.



Energy, Balance, Mindfulness

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As we age, we become more aware of our own mortality. Sooner or later, we start paying attention to things that wouldn’t have normally crossed our minds when we were spritely young teens, such as balance, aches, and pains (or preventing them altogether), and longevity in all ways, shapes, and forms.

People search for a goal or set of goals that may give them the motivation to maintain a meaningful life. Some may go to the gym, while others find solace in much simpler things, such as caffeine, specific snacks, or anything in between. What do these actions lead to? Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all strive to be happy and attain the highest quality of life possible.  In my journeys, through much discovery and unraveling, I have developed The Bo Yoga System; and I am very excited to share what I have learned through my experience as a Yoga Teacher with you.

Nate Guadagni Qi Gong Pose

Bo Yoga brings the best of yoga, martial arts, and dance into a comprehensive system that is practical, easy to learn, and fun. Yoga and martial arts have their own methods of teaching one of the most neglected, yet important practices especially during recent times — meditation.

Meditation will not only help us think clearer but also help us become more attuned with our own bodies. The better understanding we have of ourselves, the better we will be able to carry out our intentions. Bo Yoga is a way of living that focuses on energy, balance, and mindfulness.



The Bo Yoga system adds to and builds upon the long-proven benefits of yoga, martial arts, and dance. The main tool that we use in Bo Yoga is the Bo Staff — a stable and flexible prop that is used in most, if not, all aspects of each session. We use the Bo Staff for stretching, balance, and stability; an overall tool that will make your yoga experience easy and enjoyable.

4 Foot Bo Yoga Staff

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check out our Facebook Page for videos and updates on how Bo Yoga can improve your healthy lifestyle.


Photo credit: donnierayjones on Visual Hunt / CC BY

Sitting Too Long Bo Yoga

The counter-pose to sitting.

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Relieve pain and increase your energy naturally.

If you work or study from home with a computer or watch TV everyday you are likely sitting for many hours a day.

When you sit for more than an hour or two, 3 things happen.

  1. Your hips become tight
  2. Your back and neck become hunched
  3. Your breathing gets shallow

These uncomfortable conditions lead to minor annoyances like headaches when you are young, but can lead to longterm problems like chronic pain and permenant disfunction as you age.

“Over 60% of Americans who died from an opioid overdose suffered from chronic pain.”
American Journal of Psychiatry 2017

The negative effects of sitting too long can be quickly reversed if you simply follow these 2 counter-poses to sitting.

A counter pose in yoga, is a pose that complements or balances the previous pose. For instance, after doing a back bend, a good counter pose is a forward bend.

If you are new to yoga, you can use a Bo Yoga Balance Bar to to assist with balance and to make the poses safer.

What are you waiting for?

Go ahead and stand up and try the poses and then share in the comments what you felt.

Sara Russell Skills for Change Wisdom 101

Sara Russell Interview

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Wisdom 101: Relationship Anarchy and Skills for Change Coach

Sara Russell is a Skills for Change Coach and relationship anarchist. She explains in the interview.

Lee Holden Qi Gong Interview

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Listen to this exclusive interview with American Qi Gong Master, Lee Holden.

In the interview we talk about:

– What is Qi Gong?
– How can it be applied to yoga, meditation and other systems?
– What are the main benefits?
– What is Qi Gong flow?
– How he became the producer for “SuperHuman” film coming out soon.
– How to become “Superhuman”.
– How to use technology to share ancient wisdom.
– Is a 5,000 year old practice still relevant today?
– What is Qi Gong “alchemy”?
– How does Qi Gong mimic nature?
– What does it mean to “push the river”?
– How yoga teachers can offer more to their students.
– What is the best way to practice with Lee directly?

Lee Holden is an experienced instructor in Qi Gong, meditation, and Dao Yin and has worked to bring the ancient Taoist teachings to western culture. His work has popularized qi gong through books, classes, workshops, video courses, online programs, and PBS programs.

Holden has been acknowledged by the International Chi Gong Association (2009) for his ability to make the esoteric Taoist teachings accessible to modern students without compromising or diluting their essence. He conducts training and certification programs in traditional and medical qi gong and continues to study with qi gong masters in Thailand, Indonesia, Moscow, Japan, and China.

A licensed acupuncturist, Lee Holden practices in Santa Cruz and Los Gatos, California. In addition to his international teaching and private practice, he works as a stress management consultant to corporations, including Apple and 3Com.

Go to to find out more info.

How to Improve Your Balance – Interview with Nate Guadagni

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This interview is by Doug Schrift.

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug is the creator of Eldergym® Senior Fitness, which promotes safe, simple and effective exercise for seniors and the elderly.

Through his website, and Senior Fitness Radio.

Doug encourages seniors to take genuine steps toward better health, improved mobility, and increased function.

This includes helping seniors discover the revitalizing power of exercise; inspiring them to feel more vital, energized, and ready for their day; helping them to get rid of those negative thoughts about their age, health conditions or physical body; teaching them how to achieve real and objective goals with activities that they enjoy doing.

Doug has advanced certification as a Geriatric Specialist with the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. He continues to be active as a Physical Therapist, working with seniors and the elderly. He also has a special interest in balance disorders.

Your Life Choices Magazine placed in the top 10 fitness websites saying, “This site is tailored for the seniors’ age group and gives some great advice for what fitness activities you should be focusing on in your age category.” Doug is truly a leader in senior fitness and continues to create new programs and videos to help older adults.

Doug is the creator of ElderGym Academy Online Courses:

In this interview you will find out how to test your balance, learn the 5 factors of balance and practice some simple exercises to help you improve your balance.

“Today I am very happy to have Nate Guadagni on the show.

Nate has been teaching yoga, Qigong and meditation full time for over thirteen years and is the founder of Bo Yoga®, a rapidly growing health and wellness system. His mission through Bo Yoga is to make mindful movement accessible to all people by providing innovative props and training techniques and adapting to students diverse needs. He is the author of Bo Yoga: 7 Essential Values to Energize Your Life and has produced three DVDs: Bo Yoga for Beginners, Bo Yoga Basics and 5 Elements Qigong. He has also created online courses and leads national workshops and teacher trainings around the country. He is a member of the Yoga Alliance and the International Association of Yoga Therapists. His most recent training is Sarahjoy Marsh’s 500 Hour Yoga Therapy Program.”



How to meditate – Meditate with Nate – Episode 1

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Meditate with Nate Episode 1 – 100 Count Breath What is meditation, and how do I do it?

“Meditation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration.”

-Roger Walsh & Shauna L. Shapiro. American Psychologist.

This is one description that I like, and there are many more.

Some research on meditation has shown that it can:

1. Help you sleep better.

2. Reduce stress.

3. Slim your waistline.

4. Decrease Pain

5. Reduce Anxiety.

6. Lift Depression.

7. Improve your love life.

* Research references at the bottom

I hope that you enjoy this 100 Count Breath, and let me know how it goes for you. Please share your experience in the comments and ask me any questions that you may have.

See you next time!







* Research References:

1. S. Patra, S. Telles, Positive impact of cyclic meditation on subsequent sleep, Medical Science Monitor 2009; 15(7): CR375-381, June 2009

2. L. Flook, S. B. Goldberg, L. Pinger, K. Bonus and R. J. Davidson. (2013). Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout, and Teaching Efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, Volume 7, Issue 3, pages 182–195, September 2013.

3. 2. Jennifer Daubenmier, Jean Kristeller, Frederick M. Hecht, Nicole Maninger, Margaret Kuwata, Kinnari Jhaveri, Robert H. Lustig, Margaret Kemeny, Lori Karan, and Elissa Epel. (2013). Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. Journal of Obesity Volume 2011, Article ID 651936, 13 pages.

4. Zeidan, J.A. Grant, C.A. Brown, J.G. McHaffie, and R.C. Coghill. (2012). Mindfulness meditation-related pain relief: Evidence for unique brain mechanisms in the regulation of pain. Neurosci Lett. Jun 29; 520(2): 165–173.

5. Hoge EA, Bui E, Marques L, Metcalf CA, Morris LK, Robinaugh DJ, Worthington JJ, Pollack MH, Simon NM. (2013). Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity. J Clin Psychiatry. Aug;74(8):786-92. doi: 10.4088/JCP.12m08083.

6. Killingsworth, Matthew A. and Gilbert, Daniel T. (2010). A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind. Science 12 Nov. Vol. 330 no. 6006 p. 932.

7. Freeman, Elizabeth. “Meditation Improves Emotional Behaviors in Teachers, Study Finds.” University of California San Francisco. UCSF, 28 Mar. 2012.

Bo Yoga : 3 Weeks to Better Balance – Udemy Course Introduction

Bo Yoga : 3 Weeks to Better Balance – Udemy Course Introduction 1680 1284 Nate Guadagni

For more info or to sign up for 3 Weeks to Better Balance Course, go to:


Learn simple and effective exercises to improve your balance in a step by step system perfect for anyone over 40.

Improve your balance safely and easily with Bo Yoga’s comprehensive three week program.

This course includes:

– Bo Yoga Balance Assessment
– Three Week Training Curriculum
– Daily Better Balance Exercise Videos
– Beginners Exercise Guide
– Bonus Videos and Bo Yoga Book
– Daily E-mail Reminders (Optional)

Imagine being stronger, quicker and more graceful than you have felt for years!

When you are young, balance is an automatic reflex and you can quickly recover from a trip or stand up after a fall. However, studies show that balance naturally begins to decline after age 40 and one in three people aged 65 will suffer a fall.

Your balance is regulated by 5 Factors:

1. Vision
2. Reflexes
3. Muscle Mass and Strength
4. Proprioception (The ability to feel the body in space)
5. Inner Ear

Changes linked to growing older or sedentary lifestyles affect all of these areas:

1. Weaker eyesight
2. Slower reflexes
3. Weak and stiff muscles and joints
4. Poor circulation (leads to lack of physical sensation)
5. Vertigo / Dizziness (due to deposits or crystals in inner ear)

As you get older you may exercise less, gain weight, and start to feel less confident in your body and your balance.

However, the good news is that with a proper exercise and mindfulness program, almost anyone can improve their balance.

Bo Yoga blends the best of yoga, qi gong and mindful movement into a comprehensive system that includes the support of a Bo Yoga Balance Bar; a unique prop which assists with leverage, balance and stability.

Nate Guadagni, the founder of Bo Yoga, brings over a decade of experience into this program and will lead you through daily exercises that are fun, challenging and effective.

Content and Overview

Bo Yoga Balance Assessment will allow you to check your balance measurably and precisely before, during and at the end of your course.. A special formula is included which shows the percent of improvement from week to week and from the beginning to the end of the course.

Three Week Training Curriculum includes step-by-step instructions for each day of the week and shows you how to select the right Bo Yoga Staff for your practice space and your height.

Daily Better Balance Exercise Videos will give you the strong ankles, knees, hips and core that you need for good balance. You also will learn how to balance with your eyes closed which helps reduce visual dependency and improve your proprioception and reflexes. Classes always end with meditation and visualization to help you relax and recharge after the workout. You will end each class feeling energized and refreshed.

Beginners Exercise Guide gives you the confidence to know that you are doing the exercises properly and safely and you can also use it for quick and easy future reference.

Bonus Videos and Bo Yoga Book Understanding the underlying health and wellness principles of Bo Yoga will be important to get the most from this course and to apply it to your life.

Imagine walking, hiking, dancing, climbing and playing with renewed confidence in the power and stability of your own body.

Join me for the next three weeks, and I will show you how!

To find out more info or to sign up, go to:

For more info about Bo Yoga go to:

or contact:

What is “Advanced” Bo Yoga?

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When you think of advanced yoga, what images come to mind?

Do you think of people putting their feet behind their heads, doing the splits, or balancing on one arm? There is a popular conflation of yoga and contortionism that makes it seem like the goal of yoga is to see how far you can bend, stretch and dismantle your body.

More yoga teachers, students and studies are showing that intense, vigorous and forceful asana (stretching) postures can cause as much harm as good. There is a growing community of wise teachers and researchers who are working to change the public misconception that the advancement of a yoga practice is shown by how flexible the practitioner is.

It is true that many people would benefit from increasing their flexibility; building strength, stability, mobility and balance in a functional range of motion can be achieved in a much safer and easier way.

In the practice of Bo Yoga, we see “advanced” practice differently. How many movements do you make in your day? Thousands? Millions? How about in a month or in a year? Of these movements, how many of them have come from inspiration, rather than from obligation? Our bodies become like programmed robots: we walk a certain way, we sit a certain way, we write the words people want us to write, and we say what people want us to say.

Bo Yoga is about taking back our bodies and minds, and about allowing ourselves the freedom to move and to express ourselves honestly. There are few better feelings or greater accomplishments than honest self-expression. BoYoga will help you practice and master the ability to guide your own movements. It may seem counter intuitive to think that copying movements from a system will teach you how to freely make your own movements, but that is indeed the goal. Think of Bo Yoga as similar to learning a new language. Although you may copy the new language exactly, you do not walk around only reciting what you learned in your textbook to the people you meet in a new country. You use the language to express yourself, your own thoughts and ideas. You can copy and learn the Bo Yoga system directly, but that is not mastery, only mimicry. When you come to the point where the Balance Bar feels like an extension of your body, when you can truly express yourself, heal yourself, and depend on yourself, then you have found the meaning and true value of Bo Yoga.

The legendary Bruce Lee said, “Ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself… I mean it is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky… Or I could show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself… Now that, my friend, is very hard to do.

The purpose of Bo Yoga is to unlock the chains of habit and obligation that have ta ken over your body, and to give you permission and encouragement to move freely and honestly. Our bodies are built around circles and operate with rhythms. When we move with greater harmony with our inner selves, we will feel ourselves becoming more natural. Duke Kahanamoku, a pro surfer and five time Olympic gold medalist, described excellence in his sport very simply: “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” Really, that is how it should be for each person in any walk of life.

I hope you will look at Bo Yoga as a reflection of your life, not as just another class that you are taking. How you think about the program is probably an indication of the way you think about many things. Do you have preconceived ideas of what you can or can’t get from this training? If you can be aware of your own thoughts as you practice, you may remove patterns of perception that color all parts of your life. When you are doing a posture and feeling inadequate and unhappy with yourself because you aren’t doing it as you wish, you probably have those thoughts in other parts of your life. If you are comparing yourself to the teacher or to the other students, it’s likely that this is a pattern of competition that you experience in other areas of your life as well.

Instead of seeing the class as a part of your life, try to see a part of your life in your class.

Watching your own thoughts and emotions while enjoying the physical practice will lead to greater gains in all areas of your life. If you train with this attitude, the Bo Yoga class will help you strengthen your character as well as your core, and it will strengthen the flexibility of both your mind and your body.

Four arms linked

The Three Keys to Healthy Relationships

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There are three keys or rules that will help you find peace and joy within all relationships, including the most important relationship in your life, the one with yourself.

The first key is found in almost every religion and ethical tradition from the beginning of recorded history: the Golden Rule. Simply put, it states, “Treat others the way that you want to be treated.” This is a profound guideline and one that will never lose its value. Halil the Elder, who lived 100 years before Christ, once summarized the entire Torah with the similar phrase, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the whole Torah. The rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Although this rule is self-explanatory and resonates with the deepest parts of our being, doesn’t it also leave something out? What if the way that we want to be treated is not the way that others want to be treated? What if a man opens a door for a feminist who takes offense at the offering, which to her implies that women are weak and need men to help them? What about the imperialist who invades native cultures and insists that they must be saved from their barbaric ways with modern lifestyles and luxuries? Ignorance can be well intentioned, yet tremendously damaging.

Let us consider the second key, known as the Platinum Rule: “Treat others as they want to be treated.” This requires a new level of communication, empathy, and understanding. It requires not only the intention to treat others well, but also the willingness to take the time to learn how people want to be treated. Many charities waste enormous sums of money and effort giving to communities without spending the time to understand what that community really needs. Disaster reliefs are often flooded with well-intentioned cans of food and bottles of water, yet what actually may be needed are blankets and electricity. Applying the Platinum Rule to our relationships will bring immediate improvement because the only way to know what another person wants is to let go of our own assumptions and projections and to ask.

There is one final key, and it is perhaps the least understood and practiced. The Diamond Rule states: “Treat yourself the way that you want to be treated.” This is a new paradigm of thought. The application of this rule could lead to a mass shift in the perspective of millions of people who are stuck in feelings of victimhood and blame. To take responsibility for our own lives and to take the initiative to treat ourselves as we want to be treated by others is probably not a way of life that you have seen demonstrated by your community.

This idea alone is enough to alarm and distress people who misunderstand it to mean that we should not cooperate or consider each other but just take what we want for ourselves. What it really means is that nobody else knows exactly what you want, and even if they do know, it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to do it for you or to give it to you. Each of us is the creator of our own lives, the thinker of our own thoughts, and the actor of our own actions.

How can we practice this rule and apply it to our lives? If you are wanting others to love you, see that you love yourself first. If you want others to pay attention to you, check if you really give genuine attention to yourself. If you want to have more respect from others, see if you really respect yourself.

With simple introspection, it becomes clear that everything we think we want from others, whether it is love, attention, respect, or trust, is actually a deficit in ourselves that we hope others can fulfill. To the exact amount that we don’t give ourselves enough attention, we will want it from others. To the same degree that we don’t love or respect ourselves, we will crave it from others.

The problem is that the only person who can give us unconditional and unlimited love, respect and attention is ourself. Everyone else will disappoint us, no matter how much we want them to, or even how much they want to satisfy our deep needs, they cannot do it alone. The one person that you really want love and respect from is yourself — your true self. We can see ourselves with the same unconditional love as a parent looking at a newborn child — filled with love and admiration, recognizing our own infinite value, and marveling at the mystery of life. One of life’s greatest realizations is to see ourselves through the eyes of our true self. At this moment there is a life-changing shift in identity described eloquently by George MacDonald: “You do not have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

The main reason that the Golden Rule isn’t working well is that people treat themselves with criticism, abuse and disrespect, and so they are incapable of giving much else to others. As author and civil rights leader Howard Thurman wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The truth is that “You do unto others as you do unto yourself,” for better or for worse. As William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” When we learn to treat ourselves better, we will finally know how to treat others better as well.

All three Rules are important to enjoy balanced and healthy relationships.  Of the three, the Diamond Rule is the one that is most within our sphere of personal influence.  Spending more time developing this constant relationship with ourselves will build a foundation for all other interactions. From a platform of genuine self-confidence and emotional stability, it will be easier to treat others the way we have been treating ourselves — with love, respect, and dignity.