Interpersonal Encounters and Touch: yoga’s emphasis on self-awareness
As we emerge back into life after lockdown we may want to consider becoming more aware of our behaviors as we redefine our “new normal”. Yogic behavioral support mechanisms highlight the value of cultivating awareness in terms of personal behavior with ourselves, with others, and with the environment. In short, increased self-awareness.
In a (former) society conditioned on handshakes, questionable handwashing use, supermarket open food free sampling, indiscriminate handle and button touching the almost orthodox and Eastern approaches are potential remedies.
In many South and Southeast Asian countries, such as India and Thailand, a handshake is considered crude and instead the prayer hand pose acknowledgement to the other party, often associated with the Hindi greeting of Namaste and the Thai Sawasdeeka, is both an extremely polite and non-contact greeting.
Similarly, a slightly more orthodox approach in these regions limits open-hand touching of common objects. A door can be opened using the edge of one’s sleeve or directly with a handkerchief.
“In many South and Southeast Asian countries, such as India and Thailand, a handshake is considered crude and instead the prayer hand pose acknowledgement to the other party, often associated with the Hindi greeting of Namaste and the Thai Sawasdeeka, is both an extremely polite and non-contact greeting. “
Though many supermarkets, delis and restaurants right now will limit or cut out open food and buffet counters be aware of their return, with indiscriminate public consumption of the exposed free sample tray that is both unclean and extremely unhygienic. An awareness on food contamination by multiple hands is ideally motivational enough to engender self-control. Do you really need to stick your hand in there and take that “free snack”?
Three personal protective behaviors of handwashing, not touching the T-zone of the face, and tissue use, have almost become required during the pandemic. A recent report by a team of public and mental health experts discusses the necessity of ensuring people know what to do, are motivated to do it, and have the skills and opportunity to enact the changed behaviors (1). Hopefully being polite, hygienic, and caring for the welfare of all is motivational enough.
Self-awareness is required more than ever as we emerge back into shared public spaces post coronavirus lockdown. The yogic approaches of cleanliness and purity as well as mindfulness of our behaviors and habits are being offered as the path forward for the good of all.
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Paul Dallaghan’s expertise with breathwork, body and meditative practices comes from three sources: over 25 years of daily dedicated practice and teaching these techniques; immersion in the original culture through one-on-one direct training in practice and study of ancient texts; doctoral scientific research at a leading US university (Emory) on yoga and breath in terms of stress, health and aging. Paul occupies a unique space to impart genuine teaching and science on these practices, acknowledged by his teacher and lineage (Kuvalayananda) in India as a Teacher-of-teachers and a Master of Breath, identified to carry the tradition (Pranayama). This places him as the only master-level yoga and breath practitioner currently immersed in scientific academic research on breathwork, stress and health. His sincere and ongoing role is to teach, write and research to help put out experienced and authentic information on these areas in a world full of confusion and conflicting messages both off and online.
For more on his background see his bio.
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