I was reminded of the importance of tone in communication and interaction with others this evening, as I reviewed a contract agreement. I read the agreement twice thoroughly and drafted a response with my comments.  My response was straightforward and direct. But in re-reading it and discussing it with my loved one, I realized it would likely be seen as abrupt, impolite or argumentative.  I ended up trimming the note significantly, and softening the tone substantially, after thinking about what I wanted from this communication. The email, as I’d first drafted it, contradicted my objective, because the recipient might be surprised by the direct tone and/or receive the message from a defensive point of view.

How does this relate to yoga, you ask? As on the mat, so in life. My ability to perceive more than one way to accomplish a goal, my ability to step back and consider the broader context as a means to more skillfully accomplish my goal, and the patience to respond instead of react; these are all skills I’ve honed in my yoga practice. We practice yoga with a tone too; alternatively discipline or dedication, eagerness to learn or advance, frustration with certain poses or categories of poses. Whatever tone we approach our practice with influences our practice that day, and the outcomes of that day’s practice. We can more consciously choose our tone by setting an intention for that practice.

So, I urge you to take a lesson from your asana practice off the mat and into your communications and interactions with others. Take the time to observe the broader context, and ask yourself what your goals are. Then, set an intention and act with a tone that aligns to that intention. For me, this is much more skillful alignment in life.

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