Each individual needs to do their own Inner Work. Inner Work is all about self-reflecting instead of projecting, which is why Inner Work is essential in a relationship because all fights start with blame. Each time we are pulled out of peace, we must turn our gaze away from the scenario and instead look within ourselves with curious eyes. Whatever the initial fall from peace may have been triggered by, we must move our attention away from the circumstance and become more interested in why we are even bothered in the first place. Essentially everything that irritates us about our partners is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves.
As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mat & Ash.
Mat & Ash are best known as The Yoga Couple to their 500K+ online community. The influential couple is internationally recognized for their holistic healing work, authentic yoga teachings, and as the creators of The Inner Work method. Their work empowers people to self-heal through alternative healing practices such as transpersonal psychology, chakra balancing, science of mind, and yoga philosophy.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?
I (Mat) had a very religious upbringing and started using pornography, alcohol, and marijuana at the age of fifteen in a rebellion against the shame and guilt I felt was projected onto me. This experimentation with porn and substance abuse developed into a 15-year addiction cycle which I finally broke free after getting married and committing to do ‘The Inner Work’ within my marriage. I really resonate with the archetype of the Wounded Healer and believe that from our suffering can emerge our greatest gifts to humanity. I think this is why I became fascinated with healing my own body, mind, heart, and soul. I was on a quest to not only help myself get out of this toxic cycle, but I wanted to help others. After exploring both naturopathic medicine in graduate school and a master’s program in Jungian therapy, it became clear to me that my dharma (purpose) wasn’t in the conventional system. I started to see that the spiritual aspects of the human experience were being excluded from my education and when I found my teacher, Dr. David R. Hawkins M.D. PhD., who focused on human consciousness in the healing arts, I knew I had found my path. When I met my wife Ash, who had a decade-long history studying Eastern wisdom traditions and yoga, it became obvious to both of us that there were many parallels between authentic yoga and the mind-body connection. So we became The Yoga Couple and set out on a mission to help people self-heal utilizing both Western psychology and Eastern philosophy.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?
We were cast for a reality TV show together on Paramount Network, Battle of The Fittest Couples! We lived in a house with 11 other couples and competed for 100,000 dollars. It was a wild experience to go through together as the show was designed to test our physical abilities as a pair in gruesome competitions. But that wasn’t the most interesting part. What really challenged us was that we were filmed 24/7 for 28 days straight on top of the stress from the competition, and we had to live in a house with our direct competition. It pushed us to our limits not only physically but mentally and emotionally. The experience of going on reality TV together gave us a very strong testimony of the power of meditation and mindfulness. We don’t think we would have survived that experience as individuals or as a couple if we didn’t have the ability to still our minds amongst that chaos of it all.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
At the beginning of our journey, we observed how social media worked, and we thought that to be successful, we needed to post things that looked like other people in our niche. Being that our handle is The Yoga Couple, we spent about two years taking ridiculous Instagram photos of us doing handstands and all kinds of crazy yoga poses to promote ourselves. The type of yoga we teach is spiritual, psychological, and focused on Inner Work. Doing handstands on Instagram was diluting the power of our message. It’s funny because, looking back, we both hated doing it. We would be fighting and arguing throughout these Instagram photoshoots and then post these perfect, exotic pictures. It was inauthentic, and we are both happy we can look back and laugh at ourselves.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We teach people to self-heal using the best of Western psychology and Eastern wisdom traditions. This inspires people to reclaim their power and sovereignty over their health, mental wellbeing, emotional intelligence, and spiritual destiny. We teach people to self-heal using the best of Western psychology and Eastern wisdom traditions. This inspires people to reclaim their power and sovereignty over their health, mental wellbeing, emotional intelligence, and spiritual destiny. A common experience we get to witness is that many of our clients and students have been going to conventional therapy or doctors for years and don’t feel like anything is changing. However, after learning how to look within themselves to heal and do their inner work, many experience complete transformations within their careers, relationships, health, and overall satisfaction with life soon after! It is always such an awe-inspiring thing to witness!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! We are writing our second book: The Inner Work Rituals; 15 Routine Recipes To Help You Self-Heal Your Body, Mind, Heart & Soul (set to publish on 2/22/22). The book is a follow-up to our first and best-selling book, The Inner Work, and will be designed similar to a cookbook, but rather than food recipes, it will have spiritual self-help recipes for healing different aspects of ourselves.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Inspire them through your own example and passion for the mission of the company. As humans, we are most motivated when we believe in the work we are doing and have a personal connection to it. As a CEO or founder leading their team, it will always create an atmosphere for thriving when there is an authentic “why” behind it all. And most importantly, that the CEO/founder is a genuine embodiment of that “why.”
How do you define “Leadership”?
Leadership to us means demonstrating vulnerability. It’s not teaching others what they “should” be doing or pretending like we’ve got it all figured out. Instead, it’s about revealing our own shadows, mistakes, and shortcomings with fearless transparency and authenticity. When we take off our mask of perfection and share the truth about our personal challenges, we open the door for others to be radically honest with themselves too. Leadership takes courage, and there is nothing more courageous than bolding owning the parts of yourself that you want to hide or cover up.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
We wouldn’t be where we are today without our teachers. In the yoga tradition, there is a deep reverence and respect for honoring your teacher and their lineage. In fact, the term “guru” got appropriated from the yoga tradition. It actually doesn’t mean expert. Its original use meant “remover of darkness” because our teachers help us to transcend our own ignorance by holding up a mirror for us. They reflect back to us the parts of ourselves we aren’t being honest about, and that pure reflection motivates us to take action and change. So for us, our gurus are not just our respected teachers, but our guru is also all the people in our lives that have held up a mirror for us in the form of challenge or conflict. We have a saying in yoga, “Jai Guru Deva,” or in other words, “We bow to those who have come to remove our ignorance.” In this sense, we also owe our success to our greatest mistakes, setbacks, and seeming roadblocks along the way. Everything we thought was a failure was actually only helping us to learn and grow. As our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, said, “Your trials did not come to punish you, but to awaken you.”
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
10% of our profits are donated to the Self-Realization Fellowship, which helps make authentic yoga available and accessible to all. From a yogic perspective, the greatest goodness we can render humanity is our own healing and Self-realization. By helping people to self-heal, we are healing the world, one person at a time. Just like an ocean tide rising, healed people take others with them. As each individual does The Inner Work, they heal not only themselves but their family, ancestors, and future generations.
What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Each individual needs to do their own Inner Work. Inner Work is all about self-reflecting instead of projecting, which is why Inner Work is essential in a relationship because all fights start with blame. Each time we are pulled out of peace, we must turn our gaze away from the scenario and instead look within ourselves with curious eyes. Whatever the initial fall from peace may have been triggered by, we must move our attention away from the circumstance and become more interested in why we are even bothered in the first place. Essentially everything that irritates us about our partners is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves.
- Each individual needs to understand the other person’s trauma and unhealed wounds. Most of the things we fight about on the surface, i.e., feeling jealous, unheard, or unappreciated, can be connected back to a past unhealed wound, usually from our childhood. When we take the time to learn about our partner’s unhealed wounds, we stop taking things personally and be can be a supporting role in their healing journey rather than becoming enemies.
- A shared desire for self-improvement. This is because, inevitably, life changes us over time, so we have to remain adaptable and open to evolution, or else the relationship will grow apart. However, if we commit to self-improvement from the beginning as the foundation of the relationship, we will not only survive the test of time, but we thrive and welcome change.
- Know both of your communication styles and work on compassionate-assertive communication. There are four main communication styles, passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive. With passive communication, other rights and needs take precedence over ours. With passive-aggressive communication, we are self-denying at first but self-enhancing at the expense of others later and subtly make clear that our needs are more important. With aggressive communication, we are inappropriately honest and self-enhancing at the expense of others or, in other words, “I win you lose.” However, if both partners can use assertive communication, then both partners’ rights and needs are valued and honored. With assertive communication, we achieve “win-win” scenarios.
- You need to have a non-negotiable list. Often in business, we sit down to write out our roles, expectations, and strategies for disagreements. With relationships, this totally gets overlooked. We ask potential partners what they like to do for fun or what’s their favorite band, but we often fall short of getting clear about deeper, fundamental aspects of life. In Mat’s holistic counseling program, we often have couples write out what we call a non-negotiable list. This list can cover different aspects of a shared life, including finances, living location, roles, and spiritual or religious beliefs. These non-negotiables are things that we feel strongly about and usually have expectations connected to them. These expectations need to be communicated so that both parties can agree and avoid hidden resentment building over time. Once a non-negotiable list is made, both parties can share their list and either agree to the terms or honestly reflect on the sacrifices they would be making in the partnership. This is a healthy activity to revisit annually to keep the relationship healthy.
You are people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We strongly believe that there could be no greater movement than everyone in the world doing their own Inner Work. The next stage of human evolution will not be biological but an evolution of consciousness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Bondage is of the mind. Freedom too is of the mind.”- Ramakrishna
This quote inspired us to realize that every obstacle we encounter is not coming from outside but from inside ourselves due to our perception and that we have the power to choose our perspective at all times. That perspective will either reap joy or pain, but ultimately, our perspective creates such consequences, not the subject of our attention. Therefore, it is never what we are complaining about, but that we are complaining at all, which is the cause of our suffering.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Tony Robbins would be an interesting person to get to meet with since we share many of the same views on healing, personal transformation, and the power of the mind. We even quote him in our book.
How can our readers follow your work online?
We are on Tiktok and Instagram @theyogacouple and our website is theyogacouple.com
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.