December 6, 2021
Relationship Wisdom Learned on the Mat
How can you take what you learn on the mat, off the mat and into the world to strengthen your personal relationships? Lauren shares some insight gained from years of practicing with, and also working and living with, her husband, co-CEO and fellow yogi, Travis.
- Stand In Your Power, Together (The Real Yoga is Relationship): In a physical yoga practice you are instructed to hold strong poses for longer periods of time than feels natural or comfortable. In learning to stay with physical discomfort on the yoga mat, you learn to stay with discomfort off the mat. If we can learn to be with discomfort in our minds, bodies and hearts without turning away and instead turning toward that discomfort, we experience a breakthrough, we deepen connection and understanding, we repair disconnection and miscommunication, and we heal.
This is a skill that is built through a yoga practice which can literally save a relationship. Too often when discomfort arises within a relationship we turn away from the other person or avoid the uncomfortable topic entirely. If this continues over an extended period of time within a relationship the disconnection can lead to the dissolution of the relationship. By learning how to be with physical discomfort in your own body, you learn how to stay with each other in the uncomfortable moments knowing that the discomfort is temporary and the outcome is always for the ultimate goal of yoga – union.
- Slow It Down (Don’t Ruin Your Relationship with Stress): The majority of injuries and accidents that occur in the world happen at moments of transition. Off the yoga mat they most often happen while driving from one place to the next or at a busy intersection. On the yoga mat they occur when moving from one pose to the next. In a relationship injuries or accidental over-reactivity and then harmful speech most often occurs when we are under stress, transitioning from work back to home for example.
Yoga teaches you to slow down your transitions while aligning one movement and one moment with a single breath. This is the definition of vinyasa – linking one breath to one movement. A yoga practice teaches you how to be present from one moment to the next which ensures not only your physical safety but also the alignment of your thoughts, words and actions with the deepest intentions of your heart. In yoga you learn how to remain physically aligned in your body and internally aligned with your intentions. This learning on the mat translates to how you align off the mat and helps to ensure that your thoughts, words and actions in regards to how you speak with and interact with your partner do not cause harm but instead create a strong foundation of communication, love and connection. If you find yourself stressed out as you transition from one part of your day back to your partner, slow down, take breath, and remember the intention you cultivated on your mat before you interact.
- Listen to Learn (Bring Sexy Back): Seated meditation is not a silent experience. Counter to popular belief it is actually quite noisy as the mind replays the day, reviews interactions, and seemingly chatters away endlessly. But, as you continue to stay with yourself and the experience of your mind, you learn to listen. Putting aside unnecessary thoughts, you drop below the level of thought and eventually, the mind quiets. In that quiet place, you learn to listen to your True self once again. As you practice this form of deep listening with yourself, it is a skill that can forever alter your relationship for the better.
In long-term intimate relationships we stop listening to our partners because we assume we already know them and know what they are going to say or do. We stop seeing them as someone new. We stop seeing the ways they are evolving and changing. When our partner is talking or sharing, we are often washing dishes, thinking of something else, scrolling through our phones or watching TV as they talk away in the background. Meditation will teach you how to put distractions aside as you learn how to really see your partner once again and listen to them without assumptions. Suddenly, in that place, they are new to us again which can be sexy, exciting, invigorating, challenging and enlivening. As you learn to listen once again you revive your relationship and create a dynamism that was previously fizzling.
- Stop Doing Things Together, Start Being Together: Every relationship expert will tell you to find something to do with your partner – return to date night, go on an adventure but what if we chose something totally radical and subversive? Rather than doing something together, do nothing. This is terrifying to most people. The idea that you would just have to be with each other without plans, activities or tasks. In this unknown territory actually rests the resurrection of your connection. By refusing to fill your time with distractions and committing to each other, you might just discover why you fell in love in the first place.
You cultivate the ability to simply BE by practicing meditation, yin yoga and restorative yoga – all of which ask you to stay with your experience which can be boring, long, simple, unencumbered and singularly focused. If you can be with yourself, you can be with your partner (or anyone) and learning how to not fill the time leads to a deepening of the relationship.
Below are some recommended practices, even better if you share with your partner!