A few years back, my husband asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day. I've never been a red roses kind of girl, so I looked him square in the eyes and said what I wanted more than anything in the world. "I want you to go to a yoga class with me!" Now, my husband is not a yoga kind of a guy, really, so I think he immediately regretted his question. In any case, he was a good sport and he told me to find a class and sign us up.
It turns out that we were the only couple in the class and it was truly the most awkward yoga class I'd ever experienced (and I've experienced LOTS of awkward yoga classes!). Why? All the lovey-dovey stuff the teachers were making us do gave us the giggles and we couldn't stop laughing. We had to look into each other's eyes and say sweet things. We had to prop each other up for Savasana. The teachers watched us as they instructed us to massage each other's feet. Each exercise seemed a little more comedic than the last—we were the worst students ever! Couples yoga did not become a Valentine's Day tradition for my husband and me, but we still laugh about it every Valentine's Day. I didn't turn my husband into a life-long yogi as I had hoped, but I do think got a little closer that day as a couple.
And even though my husband doesn't accompany me to yoga classes there are many lessons we've learned from yoga that make our relationship better.
1. Unity. I think of my yoga practice as a beautiful metaphor for my relationships. The whole concept that we are one with each other and the universe is a romantic notion when you relate it to sharing your life with someone. Of course as yoga students, we know that we are also individuals--no one else can practice the poses for us or learn the lessons we need to learn. We might be all connected, but we're also individuals in our lives and in our relationships—and we each have to do our work for the good of the whole.
2. Practice. My husband might not want to practice yoga with me, but he certainly benefits from my practice. When I've been taking care of myself through yoga, meditation, and eating well, I'm a whole heck of a lot less likely to snap at him. For this reason, my practice is as much for him and our relationship as it is for my own health and sanity.
3. Non-Harming. If I ask my husband if my outfit makes me look fat, I expect him to tell me the truth ... in a very kind and loving way, of course. Yoga teaches me to return the favor by teaching me to be kind and loving—but in a very realistic and non-judgmental way. I've learned to be kind and loving to myself when I have an off day on my mat—and I try to be kind and loving to my partner when he has an off day, too.
4. Self-Study. Here's another lesson of yoga that translates beautifully into romantic relationships. If we can't see our own flaws, we'll never improve. If we can't see our own strengths, we lose sight of all we have to offer to the world and to our partners. Yoga helps me to reflect on both, see them as they are, and make the best of what I've been given in this world.
5. Love. Yoga is so many different things to different people. It's a physical exercise, a spiritual discipline, a lifestyle, a philosophy, a science, a community, and so much more. For me, yoga is also an expression of love. It's a balance of love for oneself and for the world, which I've found to be not only helpful but necessary in my relationships and in my interactions with everyone I encounter.
What lessons has your yoga practice taught you about love?