I think yoga is the secret to a happy marriage. I kid you not. And not for the reasons you might think. The fact that there is such a thing as a “yoga butt” is not my point. And while your partner might enjoy seeing you do “happy baby” (google it) there are far greater relationship benefits to bending yourself into a pretzel and breathing. I think my years of yoga practice are actually helping me be a better married person. Last week, Michael and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary. If you know both of us, you know what an accomplishment that is. And as I understand it, the seven-year-itch is now the four-year itch. I believe yoga is one of the things that has helped us be a better couple.
On the day of our anniversary, I taught a yoga class. We did the obligatory 15 chaturangas (tricep push ups), held poses for 15 breaths, and did 15 sun salutations. But as the class progressed, several things came to mind about yoga and how it teaches us lessons about our relationships.
1. Yoga helps us be in the now. Take three slow, full, deep breaths. Notice the way your breath sounds and feels as it comes and goes. It’s impossible to be anything but present when you are focusing on your breath. And I believe the greatest gift we can give to our partner is our presence. The gift of being fully present and in the moment is rare indeed in my house, and in most relationships but my practice is helping me live more in the NOW.
2. Yoga teaches us to be non-judgemental of ourselves and others. I have learned on my mat that each day I show up with a little different package. Some days I’m more flexible. Some days my balance is off. Some days I’m less patient or more calm. I am learning to be where I am, and how I am, and just notice, but not judge that. Wouldn’t it be great if I was able to master this and translate it to being non-judgemental of those around me, namely my spouse?
3. Yoga helps us focus on the details. A student, Jessica brought this one to my attention. She said that as we were doing our 15 sun salutations, each one the same as the last, it dawned on her that in marriage, every day is pretty much the same. She decided to try and make each salutation a little different. To mix it up and keep it interesting. I’ll have to ask her if she tried the same thing at home this week.
4. Yoga helps us with balance. In tree pose as in marriage, it’s important to have a strong foundation. To be grounded. And to reach for the sky. To breathe and remain calm even as the winds blow around us. Look at any tree in a wind storm. They do not stand erect and rigid, they bend and sway and in doing so, weather the storm.
5. Yoga teaches us patience. Getting into a challenging yoga pose is one thing, holding it is another. In doing so, we learn again the value of breathing and being present. Even in a challenging situation, we can choose to focus on our breath and choose to be present with what is. To not run away when things get hard. Often, our letting go is the key to our holding on.
6. Yoga helps us “wring out” and release what we don’t need. Twisting postures are great for cleansing, giving our internal organs a massage and helping us literally wring out the toxins and junk inside of us. Our partners do the same. I heard a quote by Beth Moore in a women’s Bible study saying that difficult people were in our lives to “bring out the worst in us”. I believe that’s true of my husband. He truly can bring out the worst in me, the stuff that really needs to get out, so what’s left is the best of me.
7. Yoga reminds us that we are all connected. At the end of every class, we send each other on our way with the word ‘Namaste’. Loosely translated, it means “I bow to you”, and it acknowledges the fact that we are all one. We all have beauty, gifts, and a desire to love and be loved. When we see that in ourselves, and ultimatley in one another, miracles happen.
I’m so grateful for the journey I’m on and for the lessons my yoga practice is trying to teach me. My next step is getting my husband to join me.