We had been together since winter, 2014. A year and a half later, summer 2015, found us at Kripalu taking a teacher training in partners/couples yoga. There had been a recent hiatus in our relationship of about 4 months. When we reunited it was tentative and some wounds had not been completely healed.
The first thing we did at Kripalu was have a fight where many past issues and current resentments were aired. We then kept away from each other for 36 hours, working with other partners. A choice made in anger turned out to be a good one: we got a good base and understanding of this yoga as individuals. Gradually, at the end of the second day, we started to work with each other for some of the activities. Gradually, we talked out our issues, practiced some partner activities and worked together on a final project. Gradually we aired some of those past and present issues.
We were at Kripalu for 5 days. We began in conflict and ended in harmony.
Working with a partner requires trust, patience, and tolerance. If that partner is also one’s sexual partner the work itself requires a new approach to problem solving, requires a new approach to communication, connection and cooperation in support of each other. Couples yoga explores these ideas.
A relationship is a team. In couples yoga we work to build this ability to cooperate. We do balance postures which require the ultimate cooperation: without both of you contributing, balance will not occur. This cooperation also needs to understand that there is no competition: each of us brings a part of the essential components for equilibrium.
A relationship is trust. Both to trust and to be trusted are essential. Trust as physical: will the other support you and, in some circumstances, catch you before you fall? Trust as emotional: will the other listen without judgement and will they disclose without fear?
The practice of couples yoga builds and strengthens the bond between you. In some cases the couple will remember the origins of this choice, rediscovering what brought them together in the first place. Renewal. For the most part this can be done with no or few words. Communication happens, for the most part, through eye contact, breath coordination and touch.
It is hard to find time just to be together. Life, work, family: although we may share these things, these are not what the couple is about. A couples practice enables us to have undistracted time together, to reconnect and at the same time get a healthy workout and some stress-relieving mindfulness. Although some of the postures may be challenging (and optional), this is fun and satisfying. Even more so when shared with the other.
Of course being in a relationship can be demanding and stressful at times. Through the practice of partner yoga you will be able to release negative emotions such as anger, frustration, disappointment, and distrust. It is important to release these emotions as it can keep you healthy both physically and mentally. It also keeps relationships strong, builds greater trust, and deepens the connections.
Couples yoga is not acro yoga. No extra expertise or powerful physique is needed. For the more acrobatic postures (for instance one partner holding the other in the air) we only use postures that both partners can execute.
Couples yoga is not tantric yoga: yoga for sex. Intimacy can be about sex but that is not all it is.
Couples yoga is for any two people who identify themselves as a couple and would like to work together to strengthen this bond.
This weekend Malcolm and I are back at Kripalu, this time for a workshop entitled LOVING TOUCH COUPLES THAI MASSAGE. Our hope is that this time we won’t fight or need to resolve past issues! Our hope is that it will be fully enjoyable and that we will bring some new techniques to our Valentine’s workshop. Our hope also is that we will bring new material to the book we are writing together: RE-IGNITE THE FIRE-A Guide to Couples Yoga. Coming soon!