Yoga is contagious.
According to the researchers of the Framingham Heart Study, having friends, family and meaningful acquaintances is a “source of tremendous happiness.” People need people. Our relationships are the stuff that hold us together emotionally and thereby keep us healthy, or conversely, if they themselves are unhealthy, make us sick. We have a choice, but we are also deeply influenced by who we spend our time with.
One of my relatives has been recovering from alcohol addiciton for the past year. She has a whole new set of friends, people who don’t abuse substances. Her perspective on socializing is changing.
“I no longer think that ‘everybody’ drinks,” she told me. “I can see that there are other ways of having fun now besides partying. It’s such a relief!” And this is because she has found a new social network – a new interconnected web of people who value taking care of themselves and having fun without alcohol.
One of her new friends is a yoga teacher 😉 I’m sure those Framingham researchers could predict approximately when my relative will start doing yoga. It’s coming soon because she has several people in her life now that are doing it, benefiting from it and telling her about their experiences.
So what about the people in your life? Do they notice that you seem more relaxed, more peaceful than their other friends? Do they ask you, “What’s your secret?”
What the Framingham study shows us is that it’s not just about the asanas, it’s about the whole experience. If you go to class several times a week you encouter scores of people who are interested in health and wellbeing, and possibly also interested in personal and social transformation. Here is where you directly experience yoga’s power of satsanga.
Swami Sivananda said: “Satsanga or association with the wise is the one panacea for all the ills of life.” The research is now verifying it.
The other thing the researchers figured out is that there are certain people who really connect with a lot of other people – they are the ones who influence many people’s behaviors. They call these people “superconnectors.” They are the people who are located in the middle of a network with the capacity and the social clout to change the way a whole group thinks about, and does, things.
So what if each yoga student became a “superconnector” to encourage positive personal and collective change? What if each student used their practice to become a shining light to the rest of his or her community by telling others what you get out of yoga – by encouraging them to give it a try, but just being the change that yoga has produced in them.
Once we reach a critical mass of superconnectors doing yoga, suddenly everyone will be doing it.
According to the social network analysis at Framingham, this is highly possible. What if you just told 3 people a day about how much you love doing yoga? Think how quickly it could change the world.
And it’s not a matter of trying hard – it’s simply a matter of being it.