Love hurts. Or it makes us euphoric, out to lunch, on a long tangential daydream about future dates that might waffle between the inane (a lazy sunday, cooking and baking, with your sweetie or significant other), and the impulsive (the last-second getaway, anywhere).
No matter what happens, there’s wisdom in that experience. And sometimes considerable humor. (Or, from my perspective, at least one Annie Hall lobster scene for every relationship.) And all the nitty-gritty, embarrassing-but-true, or just totally serendipitous feelings and experiences you have can provide ample ammunition for your yoga practice.
You can focus on the heart in your meditation, or learn to embrace an attitude of curiosity and play during a one-off partner yoga class. For the times when we’re not-so-joyful about our relationships, yoga can also help us cultivate a sense of casual observation of and acceptance for these emotions as they occur. In other words, yoga introduces us to ourselves and makes it easier to understand the way we communicate with others.
So go out and celebrate that relationship today—the one to yourself. And keep reading for tips, ideas and short practices that you can take from the yoga mat (or zafu) and bring to any relationship.
Take a Moment For Fun
Circus yoga, partner yoga, and Acro yoga teachers believe that practicing a cooperative or partnered form of yoga does much more than build kinship or community. It also provides insight into how we see ourselves and especially how we communicate with others.
And, on a deeper level, there are many other benefits that might be just a little less obvious. As Plato once put it, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation.” Plus, it just might be fun.
Try taking a partner-focused class with someone you care about this month to see what we mean. Extra bonus points if you’ve ever tried too hard during an asana class, or in meditation. Because, really, that’s all of us.
Observe Your Emotions
Ever lose your temper with someone you love? Who hasn’t? It can be doubly hard to cool off after the fact. Some of us act pretty much like freight trains after a heated debate—fast-moving, hot-headed, and by all means dangerous to our most immediate environment.
But that’s human. Equally problematic is when we choose to repress emotions or just distract ourselves from them instead. Almost always in some kind of good faith: we want to believe that we’re always capable of being highly skilled, non-violent communicators. We’re yoga practitioners! We say namaste.
We don’t want to feel angry towards ourselves or others. And we don’t want to get hurt.
Yet research shows that both of these approaches—distracting or repressing difficult emotions—are equally unhealthy. Kripalu faculty member and teacher Angela Wilson understands that intimately. She’s seen it, lived it, and learned from it, all the while living in a relatively compact yoga retreat-center fishbowl. That’s why she recommends getting in touch with a mindfulness practice called BRFWA (breath, relax, feel, watch, allow) to balance the way you feel. Get it here.
Over time, a practice like this will also make it easier to deal with heated situations as they occur.
Or Just Focus on Your Heart
When you sit down to meditate, Meditation for the Love of It author Sally Kempton once noted, “you are inviting an intimate encounter with your own mind and heart.” Thoughts and emotions come and go, we might introduce a mantra or simply focus on the subtle qualities of our own breath, and issues with our posture or the pins-and-needles feelings of a sleepy leg might become more or less of a distraction.
For many of us, that’s the bread-and-butter meditation experience we focus on everyday. But you can also explore making a small, lovely place known as the cave of the heart—or as it is sometimes alternately known—the spiritual heart—as the focal point of a standalone or ongoing meditation. One way to begin to experience this awareness is through a loving-kindness meditation.