The first few breaths (years) are bliss, then all of a sudden you’re holding your breath (and biting your tongue)
Yoga means “union, to bring together.” Within your physical practice you negotiate the union of the mind with body, body with breath, and breath with movement. A union of some sort takes place in any relationship whether it’s student/teacher, parent/child, or in marriage, which is thought to be the most sacred union- although I wouldn’t ask the stars on the cover of US for advice on that.
Our yoga practice is a reflection of our own fears, flaws, and insecurities; just as is every relationship we experience. When holding a difficult yoga pose we’re instructed to stay steady and comfortable, to breathe through our burning thighs, or fear of being upside down.
It’s that steady, comfortable breath that calms the mind in a pose, just as it would if arguing with our spouse, or trying to coax a toddler out of a tantrum. Just like we need to let go of attaining a perfect pose on the mat, we need to release the idea that any relationship will resemble those we played out with Barbie and Ken in their Dream House.
Wobbling is natural in a balancing pose- we don’t stand statue straight. Even if you’re “doing it right, ” there is a natural sway as we constantly re-balance on our foundation. Similarly, in a relationship that “you’re doing right”- there will be highs and lows, laughter and tears; and it’s the union of those opposites that makes a relationship whole.
Vairagya, or non-attachment, teaches us that the more we cling to something being a certain way, the further away we will be from achieving that state we are chasing. We spend a ton of physical energy forcing ourselves into poses that our bodies may not now or ever be ready to hold, just as we spend excessive mental energy judging other people, wondering how we can change them, comparing ourselves to them, or being annoyed by their actions we can’t control.
On the mat, if our breath is steady and comfortable, then we know we are at ease in our practice. In a relationship, through the eyes of others, we are able to see our own character development progress or regress. From Lama Marut, I’ve learned that any character flaw you see in others is something you need to work on in yourself.
We need to be flexible enough on the mat to know when a pose isn’t going to happen, and flexible enough in a relationship to know that we can’t control, but must compromise in order to find that steady and comfortable place where both people are seen and heard.
One thing I’ve learned to do when in a struggle with my husband or children is to stop, breathe, and ask myself, “ Do I want to be RIGHT, or do I want to be HAPPY?” In the end, the struggle usually doesn’t seem that important and I always choose to be happy over being right. Next time you have a disagreement with someone, try not pushing for the result you want; take a step back and see the situation from another point of view- theirs.
Understanding is a much better path to happiness than controlling, and we all need to learn how to be a bit more flexible in both body and mind. As a practice, think about trying to cultivate more of the following both on the mat and in your relationships:
Trust– in your teacher/partner
Honesty– with your body/ partner
Loyalty– to your practice/ partner
Compassion– when your injured/ when times are tough
Love– for your practice/ for your partner
This week try to show yourself and your partner, child, friend, employee, some LOVE by taking a breath before trying to change them or the situation. say to yourself: “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? ”