They made us look at one another, uninterrupted with no speech, for five minutes each. Then they made us talk to each other sitting in Hero pose facing one another. I don’t remember the last time we did this; at least with no phones beeping; no cat meowing; no child saying ‘Mom.’ Partner yoga within the first five minutes of a sixty-minute session brought us together through stream of consciousness speech; it did what five months prior could not accomplish.
Sure, we talked about breakfast, even our workplace over the span of the five minutes. But the gentle wink of his right eye when the coaches said ‘Stop” was so powerful. It meant everything.
Perhaps the issue before was just that I was trying to facilitate speech, force it, control it. Now, it took a pair of strangers, a first-time-meeting with two yoga coaches to gently guide us closer together. Complete surrender on our parts with no hierarchy of power in play, no preconceived agenda.
This partner yoga morning was the perfect introduction to an accessible practice that included a variety of moves including pressing my right foot against his and his left foot against mine (sort of a sideways Happy Baby pose), a beautiful and flowing, synchronous cat/cow on each other’s back (feels like a massage on the back but way cheaper!) and even supported handstands – to name a few. But during the practice, the most important part for me was that we simply held space for one another — not only physically but also mentally. The gentle look that says “I’ve got you” is precious and in my experience in life, monetarily unattainable.
This exercise in Partner Yoga, held at Core Power Yoga in the University District in Seattle by Noe and Karina proved to me again that yoga isn’t necessarily about lifestyle, beliefs, weight loss, flexibility, or even whether we reach nirvana. Yoga (specifically partner yoga) was just about us showing up. Showing up for each other and uttering words about trivial things about our morning. How tasty was breakfast. How the rest of the day would shake out.
We’d had a rough go of things over the prior five months that involved international travel for work, resulting in a lot of time apart. Some injuries from sports which left us in recovery and devoid of any substantial conversation. Adjustments to some work reorganizations. Blended family stuff. You name it – all leading to mixed emotions compounded from feeling misunderstood. Whenever there is rushed communication(s) with much of it over the phone or especially through text, you can count on a recipe for marital distress. Ingredients such as continual interruptions and plain ol’ absenteeism could never result into anything harmonious.
But to that end, when our sixty-minute session was all said and done – when the stopwatch reached its final “0” – I was grateful and thankful once again for my practice. My (our) yoga practice(s) peeled the onion back one more layer to what was important – creating space for one another through movement and conversation and laughter and even tears afterward.
The mission of our coaches – “to inspire their participants to experience authenticity, love and creativity in relationship” plays into their larger vision: one of ‘…openness in relationship that invites each other’s true selves to emerge and celebrate the natural rhythm of closeness and individuality…’ was more than accomplished in our session.
I often talk to my students in my classes–especially during hip openers–about fear: this idea of False (F) Evidence (E) Appearing (A) Real (R). This sometimes leads to concern that I might be erring on the side of cliché or even picking at their personal scabs a little too closely. Luckily, I am frequently reassured by them at the end of class, how profound and brave the delivery was and is often appreciated.
The difference in the delivery in our partner yoga session we attended, was that our coaches did not suggest insight for us for ponder. Instead, they had us simply and gently push a foot closer to the other’s chest (in reverse supine). Without words, this movement created the same effect. It broke down my fears like a chisel to a granite wall. The beauty in our relationship was once again transparent and re-sculpted together.
Are you and your partner worlds apart these days?
Have you tried everything (including Partners Yoga) to rekindle your communication?
Can you create openness somehow with movement and compassion?
Related: Why Yoga is Good for Your Marriage
Photo: Core Power Yoga