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I'm working on an American Lawyer column on yoga and law; thoughts?
January 21, 2010
I'm considering the topic against the backdrop of this piece from CBS News Sunday Morning,
, which looks at the role of spirituality in modern life. Lawyers I meet who practice yoga tend to focus on the stress reduction and physical and mental well-being in general, and ignore or skirt the spiritual/mystical side, or transform it into something they feel is less hokey/creepy that works for them: Personal code of conduct, Golden Rule, etc. To what extent are yoga, spirituality, peace, tranquility, etc., at odds or consistent with working in such an adversarial profession? I think there are basically four schools of thought: 1) yoga and more spiritually-oriented physical activity is a bunch of hooey, 2) yoga's great but no more so than running, basketball, etc., 3) yoga is so transformative that once it enters your life in a serious way you can't (or no longer want to) be an effective lawyer, because there are more worthy and important pursuits, and 4) yoga enhances and hones a lawyer's skills through the calm, discipline, focus, and perspective it engenders. There's also the opportunity for charlatans to prey on the stressed and strung-out legal profession, especially those who fall into the third school of thought, above. I'm not sure yet whether there's a role for this point in the column but it's on my mind as it develops. -
As a devoted yoga practitioner and full-time attorney, I am very much interested to read your column when it comes out. Although I occasionally identify with #3, for me yoga is far different than running, basketball, etc. because of the qualities you list in #4. At the end of the day, yoga definitely makes me a better lawyer, and a better person, precisely because of the calm, discipline, focus and perspective it engenders. One minor downside is that it makes it slightly harder to relate to non-yoga colleagues in the office who are 100% mind oriented. -
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