Energy, positive or negative, is contagious. The neuroscientific explanation for why is mirror cells, which are the neurons thought to be responsible for empathy. They allow us to perceive and then take on the emotional state of someone else. It’s not just that we sympathize with the feelings of the other, it’s that we actually feel these feelings too thanks to our proximity to them.
It’s pretty hard to be happy and healthy unless we surround ourselves with positive energy for this very reason. Despite our best efforts, we’ll probably take on a generally negative outlook towards life if we spend most of our time around negative people.
The good news for us yogis is that the spot where we practice yoga is an excellent space to feed off of the positive energy created by other practitioners and add to the vibe ourselves. Having a supportive community we can rely on, what Thich Nhat Hanh would call a sangha, helps us stay committed to our practice and also gives us a powerful dose of positivity every day that we can take with us into the rest of our lives, accessing it during those times where we’re confronted with negative energy and don’t have a whole lot we can do about it. We don’t have to let ourselves be sucked in though, we can recognize the temptation to take on that negativity because of our mirror neurons but focus instead on the positive energy we’ve been cultivating, radiating that in spite of the negative energy coming our way.