problem solving skillsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

How can Yoga help us with problem solving skills? The most common reaction to any problem is to say, “Why me?”  This is a normal response to the many problems, which overwhelm us. If you could handle every problem calmly, without anxiety, and make the best decisions under fire, all the time, you would either be very lucky or an enlightened soul.  So, what is the answer to solving life’s many problems? Firstly, people who consistently solve difficult problems remain calm, even when everyone around them is in panic mode. A person, who can react calmly in the face of danger, while everyone else is filled with panic, has a trained mind.


Such a person may never have practiced Yoga at all, but a self-disciplined mind is not a coincidence. A self-disciplined mind develops from training – whether it is martial arts, military training, Zen, Yoga, a school of meditation, or something similar. The results are a trained mind that can perform under pressure.  In Yoga, many Yogic techniques are, in fact, tools to train the mind. Most people think of meditation for training the mind, but pranayama, japa, and asana, train the mind, as well. Yet, why should you go through the trouble of disciplining your mind?


How does Yoga enhance problem solving skills? Each problem contains hidden opportunities for those who do not panic. The trouble is reacting, and thinking rationally, within a limited amount of time. Many people are consumed with competitive drive and getting to the next level.  Problems are your best opportunity to rise to the next level. If you make the correct move, due to rational thinking, you are on the right path, but sometimes failures reveal life’s more important lessons. Setbacks can be some of our best teachers. Yoga teaches us to accept what we cannot change, but we can definitely change ourselves from within.


We can change, adapt, and learn new life skills. We can survive challenging situations and create from what we learn along the way. We can redefine and empower ourselves.  When you go about your life, every intersection you see was designed and improved by a previous traveler. Mistakes, problems, and failures, have built the world we know today, because our species learned, and documented past mistakes. Without history and documentation, we would have to learn everything from scratch.


When you practice Pranayama, do you realize how many mistakes must have occurred over 5,000 years of research? If you push your body beyond the natural limits, something has to give.  So, if you take the time to study a problem, look for a documented solution, first. Why should you have to reinvent the wheel? Always learn from someone else’s mistakes, when possible. Life is much less painful, when you listen to advice and choose your path wisely.


Side Notes for Yoga Teachers

One of the best methods for eliminating worry is to focus on a solution.  One of the methods we demonstrate during our onsite Yoga teacher training courses is to write the problems and possible solutions down on paper before meditation, relaxation, or Yoga Nidra.  With this method, you will learn to put worries aside and leave them on your kitchen table, while you sleep.  Giving this gift to your Yoga students will turn them into problem solvers instead of worriers. Mastering problem solving skills is an art that serves us well throughout life.

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