In yoga we learn to stay: to stay with our breath, to stay with our emotions, to stay with our thoughts, to stay with our body. Yoga teaches us to stay with the practices of non-judgment, acceptance, and patience, embracing the idea of a lifetime of continually honing the practice. But the real practice begins off the mat; the rubber meets the road in intimate relationship.
In Tommy Rosen and Kia Miller’s Glue Film, Tommy states, “The yogic analogy for long-term relationships is holding the pose, the yoga begins when you want to leave the pose.”
The practice of staying is simple, but far from easy. In an earlier blog, we discussed the fact that the biggest relationship obstacle is our own thinking. For this particular article, the focus is on long-term relationship, meaning the vetting process has happened. This is intended for couples that have consciously chosen each other, and for those moments when leaving may feel easier than staying.
Since this is such a rich topic, we will extend it over four blog posts- into four core ways to draw on yoga principles in your relationship. As always, we welcome your feedback. Enjoy.
- STAYING PRESENT.
“For all of us, the spiritual journey requires a willingness to step repeatedly into the unchartered territory of each new day and our ever-changing partner.”
– Charlotte Kasl
To me, staying present and curious is the most vital practice of all. Our partner is not the same person today as they were yesterday, and will not be the same tomorrow as they are today. Who are you in relationship with at this moment, what are their likes and dislikes?
We all fall into the trap of thinking we know our partners and put them on auto-pilot. We place them in a box, either subconsciously relating to them as we have related to others in our past, or thinking we know everything about them. Quite literally, our brains save energy by creating proxies for everyone that came before according to Stan Tatkin. Or we assume that because they liked a certain song or a book or a sexual position yesterday, that preference will remain static, forgetting our tastes evolve and change.
The key is to continually explore our partner over time. It’s like the classic Rupert Holmes song, Escape, about a couple that had been together for a long time and lost their spark. He runs an ad looking for someone who likes pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and making love at midnight. The twist was that his wife answered the ad.
It was ultimately their curiosity – albeit directed away from the relationship – that ironically brought them closer together. But until this serendipitous event, they had dismissed each other because they didn’t communicate about their desires, likes, and dislikes.
Keeping curiosity alive and staying present to your partner, without assuming they are completely known to you is one of the keys for long-term connection. The person in front of you may not be the person you assume.
One tangible way to practice presence is to attune to your partner using eye contact, and relate to them in real time paying attention to the subtleties. When we lose eye contact we tend to respond habitually, believing the stories we create in our mind. This is why communicating via text should be kept to simple messages, and even then we can get into trouble, losing the meaning behind the words. We rely on tone and facial expressions to remain present and see our partner in the present moment.
One of the main benefits of practicing yoga is learning to stay present, seeing your partner in real time and staying present to your partner is one of the many positive influences that a yoga practice can have on your relationship.