My lovely yoga friend has kindly supported my teaching at a new studio. One recent morning she excitedly told me about a guy she was seeing. Despite her zeal for this prospect she quietly added, “I think I'm really dating yoga.” Turns out Mr. Could Be Right had unexpectedly cancelled one of their first dates. My friend said she wasn't mad. Her first thought was now I can still go to yoga.
I get it. Yoga was a source of tension in my last relationship. I didn't just want to practice daily, I wanted to take classes at a particular time or with a particular teacher. My standing relationship with yoga didn't help the one I was trying to build even if it did make me feel more relaxed and at peace with myself and others.
Yoga means union. A yoga practice truly is a relationship first and foremost with ourselves. Like most relationships it teaches us about balance. As we develop balance in the postures on our mats we learn to develop balance in our lives off our mats.
Here are 4 ways to have a healthy relationship with yoga.
1. Discover your truth. I have a wonderful teacher who often talks about how yoga is like polishing a stone. With steady practice, you begin to uncover your authentic truth. Your brilliance starts to shine. Finding your true self and loving whatever you find will serve any relationship you have outside yourself.
2. Let go of rigidity. Your practice changes day to day. It won't look or feel the same. Let go of your need to control it. Instead listen inwardly. Your body will tell you when to deepen and when to soften. If you always practice in the front row on the left side, try moving to the middle row or to the back right corner.
3. Date around. Experiment practicing at different studios with different teachers and at different times. Throw in a solo home practice every now and then. It's all good. Over time you'll develop your own style keeping what is best for you and leaving behind what does not serve you.
4. Pause pratyahara. In yoga pratyahara is turning the senses inward. It's a letting go of distractions. When the senses are still the mind is still. Sometimes I'm still practicing pratyahara as I leave a studio. I'm withdrawn. Usually these are the times when someone speaks to me pulling me back into reality. Know when to pause pratyahara and relate to others.
As my friend left class she told me she was off for the day and taking another class that afternoon. “Two yoga dates in one day,” I said with a smile. “Actually, we're not dating, we're in a long term relationship,” she answered.