“We are creatures of habit more than we are creatures of change," goes the well-worn quote by AJ Darkholme. This tendency to stick with what is known and established is true in many aspects of our lives, including our close relationships and in particular, our marriages.
For some, this is not a problem. Others want a little more variety, creativity, and excitement. Couples Yoga experiences may well be the answer. From my 30 years of leading Yoga Therapy workshops for Couples and Relationships, here are the five most common takeaways from those who’ve attended.
We all want that deeper connection with our mates. We want to “see” and be “seen”. We want to be heard, and we want to be validated. And so long as we don’t get compulsive around it, many therapists call this need “healthy attachment.”
There is no question that when you physically engage with your partner as you do with even very simple partner yoga postures, there is a sense of presence that goes way beyond what can be done through words. Of course, a lot could go wrong, and instead of connecting, you could end up fighting. That’s why a carefully facilitated experience is essential until you get the hang of it. In my workshops, recognizing that this is a primary benefit of couples yoga, I have learned to craft safe and engaging experiences that often provide a deep-felt sense of connection.
I learned a new word recently. “Phubbing”. Phubbing is when you think you are being present to someone, but you are more present to what is happening on your phone than you are to the person you are with. It’s short for “phone snubbing”. And don’t tell me you don’t do it! And whether you do it or not is not as important as the possible impact it has on your close relationships over time.
Now imagine you are supporting your partner in a back bend posture like the one in the picture below.
Do you think you could be doing this and have your mind engaged elsewhere? Not likely. Partner yoga is a great way to get 100% present with your partner and hang out for a while. To your relationship, this may be like a breath of fresh air. It’s so nurturing to have the full presence of another, especially if you are feeling a little vulnerable as you might be in postures like this. And no, you won’t have to perform acrobatic yoga when you come to my workshop. All the postures are crafted to the individual needs of the partner who is least strong or flexible, and it still works well for both parties.
So if you want a quality time when your partner is fully present to you and you to them, this is a great reason to take a couples yoga workshop.
No two people are alike. You probably chose your mate because they were not like you. Your attraction and excitement during your courtship were probably based on your experience of something “different” that you had not experienced before. Over time, we sometimes lose sight of those differences and have a hard time accepting the differences in each other that might trigger or annoy us from time to time. You may even hear yourself say “If only they did things more as I do!”
In a partner yoga workshop, many differences will appear. Not only will you notice them, but you will also be supported in accommodating them so you can create powerful and rewarding experiences together. You’ll find greater acceptance of your and your partner’s strengths and needs. The awareness you gain through your body will directly link aspects of your life together. The opportunity to see things through a different “lens” will arise. Your body will teach you and remind you of the importance of acceptance in your relationship.
- Being heard
We all want to be heard by our partners, so many go to couples talk therapy. Research from the Gottman Institute tells us that the most significant communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to our reply. Although most of my couple’s yoga workshops are spent engaged in the body, we do a little talking too. It’s the kind that leads to deeper connection and understanding. You will be invited to practice “deep listening” after each body experience in a carefully structured integration process. This will result in a lot of learning about yourself and your partner. And it may be new to you, no matter how old your relationship is. Being heard by your partner can engender a beautiful closeness and one I love to witness over and over.
- Valuing Difference
I’ve saved the best one for last. There is nothing more wonderful than the feeling of being not only accepted but also validated. Knowing what you bring to the relationship and being validated by your partner is a big high for most couples. The strength of many great relationships is the partners' capacity to freely offer their strengths and recognize and use their partner’s strengths.
We can get stuck in our stories about each other and not see or value the strengths that we each bring. Yoga-based body experiences, when carefully facilitated, can dispel many of the false stories we hold. Our bodies reveal the truth. And on that basis, we can let go of the stories and trust our body experience. Again, many of the little “aha” moments in a couples yoga session will connect to similar life experiences and highlight the opportunities for different ways of being and seeing what is real. The end product is the valuing of differences – a powerful skill not only crucial in relationships but, once learned there, can be applied in a larger world.
If you or your partner are yearning to forge a better understanding of one another or to reignite the spark that sparked you to form that initial bond, consider Couples Yoga as a way to explore and deepen your connection.
Feb 12th - Noon to 2 pm EST
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