Conflict is a good thing: how to fight yoga style

Recently boyfriend and I had a bit of a fight. The issue is something we’ve fought about before. Something we have totally different views on, and it’s hard to find the middle ground. As the issue occurred again I felt angry and hurt, but then I started wondering if I should be having these feelings. I’m training to be a yoga teacher, do yoga teachers feel angry? Is there a good way to argue? Can conflict become a positive tool in my life?

Conflict is a good thing?

It’s a pretty emotive subject, even the word conflict produces a very physical reaction, a recoiling or a springing into action. I recoil, I’ve always recoiled, because I see conflict as a thing that pulls people apart. But, what if we saw conflict as something that brings us closer together?

The etymology of the word comes from the Latin con – meaning together and figere meaning to strike. Yes, it’s combative but the key thing is that it’s together.

Yoga and conflict

Two of the eight limbs of yoga are the Yamas and Niyamas. These can be seen as like a set of moral and ethical codes. They address how you relate to your inner world and to the world around you. Some of these came to mind as I asked myself if I was allowed to have conflict as a yoga teacher.


Ahimsa, yoga Yama. Non Violence, compassion and kindness.
This Yama doesn’t sound very conflict-y to me.
Yoga Yama, Satya. Truth, truthfulness, honesty.
If we follow this Yama, we can see how conflict might be necessary.

Yoga Niyama. Santosa. The practice of being happy for no particular reason.


Does a happy person have conflict?

If we hold emotions in we end up bearing grudges and being passive aggressive. This does not a happy person make. Although it may not seem like it, to be happy we need to embrace conflict when it’s necessary. But, I do think there are good ways to fight.

Good ways to fight yoga style

Fight the Good Fight

Sit with your feelings before you approach the person who’s hurt you

Yoga teaches us to look inward, to sit with our feelings. By doing this we can identify the essence of why we feel angry and hurt.

Make sure you’re fighting with the right person

Sometimes we might feel angry at someone who cut in front of us in a queue. Is it worth fighting with them? Probably not. The reason we’re angry is probably because we’re holding on to some earlier issue. Maybe your boss or spouse said something that hurt you and put you in a bad mood. Address the real issue, not the little thing.

Only address one issue – don’t play dirty

We’ve all been in that argument where both of you start throwing every single thing the other person does that annoys you into the arena. If you’ve identified the essence of the issue you’ll know specifically what it was that hurt you. Don’t play dirty and bring in other things.

See the other point of view

Yes, we need to go inwards but we also need to identify outwards with the other person’s point of view. See both points on a spectrum, you’re both at different ends but you could just as easily be at the other.

Don’t hold onto the conflict

Once it’s over, it’s over. Don’t stay mad for no reason. Yoga teaches us that everything moves on, emotions aren’t here to stay but scud across our mind like clouds. If you’ve fought right, and really got to the heart of the issue your feelings of hurt and anger should be allowed to move on.

Be silly

Fighting is part of life. Sometimes we have little spats that we can easily get over with a little humour. Remember the wise words of Lorelai Gilmore

“a spat can easily be diffused with the use of a spatula”

How do you feel about conflict? Do you think conflict is a good thing if you’re fighting right? How do you make sure you’re fighting right?

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