How Yoga enhances our Emotional Intelligence

The term first came into mainstream prominence in the 1990’s in a book by Daniel Goleman, with title“ Emotional Intelligence”. He proposed that it was the ability of an individual to identify and label their emotions and feelings and that of other people. This would then allow that person to be guided in their thinking and behaviour in a more informed manner.

Perhaps the first obstacle for many might be determining their emotions and feelings. It is not a given that everyone is able to identify what it is they are experiencing, or have the skills to tap into that process.

Richard Miller PhDFounder of the iRest® Institute offers this definition:

emotions are psycho-physiological states that move us into action. They are the expressions related to our perceptions and beliefs about objects or people e.g.: anger, sadness, joy, trust etc.

feelings involve sensations that involve perception through the element of touch or other sensory factors e.g.: warm, cold, comfort, discomfort etc.”

He advocates that feelings and emotions are vital feedback mechanisms that feed us information e.g.: anger = boundaries being violated or ignored, fear = perceived or real danger, anxiety= not sufficient self care.

When we practise Emotional Intelligence, we learn to welcome all emotions and subsequent feelings without resistance. We comprehend their purpose and accept that there is no right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative, just information to know. Armed with this insight, we can then choose to RESPOND rather than REACT to a situation or a person.

Whilst the initial benefits of practising Emotional Intelligence may be self evident i.e.: greater self awareness and more conscious behaviours, the added benefits are the flow on effects to our relationships both personal and in the workplace and within the greater community.

Other benefits include:

  • Greater self-control
  • Emotional self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Tolerance
  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Social self-awareness
  • Enhanced communication
  • Improved cooperation, teamwork, leadership
  • Better conflict management


Sue Langley, Psychologist and Emotional Intelligence Expert talks about the necessary components of Brain Training as:

  1. Body Intelligence
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EI)
  3. Visualisation

If we look at this from the yogic perspective we find some commonality. Current research validates what yoga has been promoting for thousands of years:

  1. Body Intelligence could be compared to Body Awareness, the yogic annamaya kosha and  Breath Awareness, the yogic pranamaya kosha, as both of them are so intertwined. The body scan and breath sensing practised in iRest® and Hatha Yoga is in fact how we learn to be ‘ body intelligent’
  2. Emotional intelligence could be compared to the iRest® Yoga Nidra’s  Sheath of Feelings and Emotions called manomaya kosha.
  3. Visualisation or in other words, the ability to create visual mental images is a big part of every iRest® meditation session and is perhaps most evident when working with our Inner resource.

Sue says that E.I is not about controlling emotions but learning how to manage them!

If you look at bodywork and breath work as openers, then yoga practice and iRest® Yoga Nidra training are two very nurturing ways of accessing our emotions and acknowledging our feelings. It offers us a gentle way to make change in our lives so that we become more aware of how we emote and how we feel.

Another option to assist with ways of accessing your emotional intelligence potential, might be to work with a counsellor. This offers you the chance to engage in a one on one session allowing you the time and support to identify areas of resistance and to formulate strategies to assist with moving forward.


ENHANCE YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE by participating in my upcoming courses:

26th July – Hatha Yoga (10 week course)

11th Sept – iRest Yoga Nidra (8 week course)

or take advantage of Cherrie’s new client special.


Namaste x