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I recently read a Harvard Business Review article about using mindfulness to manage conflict.

Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our modern context, we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious….

Mindfulness is the perfect awareness technique to employ when a conflict arises — whether it’s at work or home. It allows us to override the conditioned nervous system with conscious awareness. Instead of attacking or recoiling, and later justifying our reactions, we can learn to stay present, participate in regulating our own nervous system, and eventually, develop new, more free and helpful ways of interacting.

Practicing mindfulness in the middle of a conflict demands a willingness to stay present, to feel intensely, to override our negative thoughts, and to engage our breath to maintain presence with the body. Like any skill, it takes practice.

The author goes on to recommend four techniques:

  1. Stay present
  2. Let go of your preconceived ideas
  3. Focus on the body
  4. Breathe


Each of these is an active element of yoga practice. Mindfulness alone is a good first step to handling conflict. Yoga adds the element of physical and mental discipline and practice. In the studio, we breathe, focus, move through postures, and are constantly grounded in the present.

We do this because it enhances our minds and bodies; because it feels good. But, as this article shows, it also applies to other elements of our life. Practicing yoga can make us better at handling conflict, resolving difficult situations, negotiating, and communicating. It gives us tools to handle challenges in a positive, proactive way rather than reacting to stress or upset.

How does yoga help you manage daily life? Share in the comments.