Cell Phone Co-Dependency And Yoga.

I love my cell phone.  I mean,  who doesn’t?  The organization, fun and personal connection of my entire life at my fingertips and weighing only a few ounces.  But there is a psychological downside to it all and it’s called co-dependency.  It’s really effecting your yoga practice ( amongst many other things in your non-yoga life).

Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control by, another.

I’m definitely using this term in the broad sense as our cell phones are clearly not a live human being but they are extremely close to becoming one. Our cellphones talk and we talk back to them.  We hold them tightly in our hands as if we were holding the hand of someone we loved and trusted. They know our entire life.  They are available to talk to and have fun at any time.  When we lose or misplace our cell phones, or someone tries to take it away, we panic like we just lost a friend or loved one. Those are some pretty high emotional stakes and they are robbing of us of our emotional freedom.

Granted, this can also be seen as an addiction, all the signs are there as well.  Addiction, the fact or condition of being addicted to a substance, THING or activity.  

Whatever the term we have a problem and it’s only getting worse.  And it’s not just down dog texting. I was teaching a class one day when a student picked up their cell phone when it rang, the student said ” I have to call you back, I’m in  yoga.” You know what, I laughed. I found the lack of awareness funny. I reminded the student of the no cell phone policy and moved on.

How we respond to these cell phone issues in class( student or teacher) is really, really  important. Too often I see an enraged post on Facebook or hear a verbal complaint about cell phones in the yoga room with a strong desire for punishment of the offending cell phone yogi.

Cell phones are not only a distraction to the student, but a distraction to everyone else in the room practicing in a environment where they should be getting minimal distractions. Cell phones and yoga are really bad combination and I do not condone their use in the yoga room once class has begun.  But, I also do not punish, reprimand or embarrass a student. We are all adults and need to help each other more rather than become reactive and mad.

Sometimes I wish I could run that “Turn off your cellphone” ad movies do before the trailers and main attraction proceed before my yoga class starts.  We’ve all been in that movie with the one person who felt that that rule didn’t apply to them. Their phone goes on, it shines like the bat-man insignia out into the dark movie theater auditorium and everyone is distracted( and annoyed).

Fixing an addiction or co-dependency issues take time. And cell phone addictions are no different. It’s a process and habit that needs to be worked on. It needs patience and diligence. It needs our compassion, kindness and firm rules that are gently enforced.

As a yoga teacher that should be our focus. How can we help break the cell phone addiction. By becoming a militant yoga teaching that punishes, embarrasses, scolds or condescends  an adult student who has this cell phone addiction?  I see this all the time when I’m practicing and not teaching. Personally, seeing teachers get up in arms about cell phone use in the yoga room scares the hell out of me much more than the phone that accidentally went off.   It says more about the teacher and their issues than it does the student who has an addiction.

I always start out my class reminding students to turn off their phones. I recommend they even double check their phones are off,  because accidents happen. I make it clear that I’m happy to wait to begin class until they are sure it’s off. I also tell students who are dealing with cell phone emergencies that I am sorry they are dealing with such stress but, they can take the issues outside the room quietly and return when they are done…quietly.  This has become quite effective.

Remember, it’s HOW we respond to stress that we are learning to deal with in conscious yoga classrooms.  Teacher and student alike we are all one in this process.  Respect rules, enforce those rules kindly and help those who are dealing with unconscious addictions such as cell phone co dependency.  Cell phone use in the yoga room is not okay but life happens..lets learn how to be less reactive and more helpful instead.



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