Many years ago, when I was trying and failing miserably to get pregnant, I spent a four-day weekend at the Himalayan Institute, a yoga ashram in Honesdale, Pa. While there, I told one of the yoga instructors about all of the problems in my body and my life. It all spilled out of me quickly, many of the words nearly slurred together: “I’m trying to get pregnant, but it’s not happening and we’re supposed to do it every other day, and I’m just getting sick of doing it, but we have to keep doing it or else we’ll never have a baby, and I want to have a baby but, to be honest, I feel almost nothing down there. It’s like I’m cut off from my hips, like that part of my body doesn’t exist or something. I think my husband can tell, and I feel bad about this. I don’t want him to take it personally. I can’t get pregnant and I’ve tried everything. I need to open up my lower body chakras somehow. Any advice?”
With a deep look of compassion on her face, the yoga instructor asked, “Alisa, how do you feel about Child’s Pose?”
It was a rhetorical question, one that she didn’t wait for me to answer. If she had waited, though, I would have told her that Child’s Pose was too easy, too boring, and too lacking in fitness benefits. My nickname for it: Slacker’s Pose. It’s what people did in the middle of class when they ran out of gas and couldn’t possibly hold a Downward Facing Dog for a second longer.
She set up cushions and bolsters, asked me to rest myself onto them, and then simply said, “Stay there.”
“For how long?” I asked.
I believe her answer was “a long time.” I no longer remember. I do know this: At first I was convinced that the yoga teacher somehow hadn’t understood my request. As the minutes ticked past, however, my body sunk into the cushions and I began to surrender. A deep sense of relaxation set in, and I began feeling familiar stirrings of excitement downstairs, if you know what I mean. I realized then that my problem wasn’t physical. It was mental. I was wound too tight and, in order to conceive as well as get in the mood, I’d have to find some inner calm. Soon after that day, I missed a period. Then I peed on a stick and was greeted by a deep, unmistakable plus sign.
I was pregnant, and Child’s Pose became my favorite yoga pose of all.
That was 10 years ago. Child’s Pose isn’t the only yoga pose that offers us lessons for our relationships. The vast majority of yoga poses are not just about yoga. They are about life. They teach us about ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. Specifically, let’s take a look at what 7 yoga poses have to teach us about our relationships.
7 Yoga Poses That Will Transform Your Relationship 1 of 8
What can yoga teach you about love, marriage, and romance? Click through the slideshow to find out.
Mountain Pose: Find the Right Balance 2 of 8
It looks easy. All you have to do is stand there, right? Soon, however, you learn that you are anchoring too much of your body weight in your right foot or that you are shifted too far forward onto your toes or too far back onto your heels. Suddenly just the act of standing up puts you off balance, and you find you want to lean on something. Yeah, that's Mountain Pose.
What it can teach you about your relationship: Relationships require us to balance our weight, too. Lean into your significant other too much and you become needy, too dependent, and a bit annoying. Lean too far back and you're distant and cold. When you stand on your own two feet and root yourself to a grounded and meaningful purpose, however, you achieve the right balance. Find the middle way.
Photo credit: Gollykim, via iStockPhoto.com
Tree Pose: Look up During Hard Times 3 of 8
There are several tricks to staying balanced on just one foot. One of them: gazing upward. When you look down, your body follows your gaze in that direction. When you look up, you stay up.
What it can teach you about your relationship: Sometimes our relationships can feel a lot like balancing on one foot. We're wobbly and we worry that we'll completely fall over. During these times, it's tempting to look down, telling ourselves all of the reasons our relationship is doomed or our partner is horrible. This causes the relationship to falter even more. Instead, try looking up. Remind yourself that you've gotten through tough times before. You can do it again now. Every confrontation makes you stronger, brings you closer, and teaches you important lessons about yourself.
Photo credit: Robert Bejil via Flickr (Antoinette 07) and via Wikimedia Commons
Wheel Pose: Keep Your Heart Open 4 of 8
The secret to any back-bending posture isn't necessarily flexibility in the lower spine. Often what separates those who can do Wheel Pose and those who can't: flexibility in the chest and shoulders. To do the pose correctly, you must lift and open your heart, not kink the life out of your lower back.
What it can teach you about your relationship: We're often guilty of putting too much back and not enough heart into our relationships. We think that throwing our weight around is important, but this often backfires, creating tension, coldness, and distance. Usually what we most need is love: a sincere wish for our partners to find happiness, and this is true even when our partners are causing us to feel emotional pain. When we keep this wish alive, we're more likely to understand where our partners are coming from and respond more effectively.
Photo credit: Kennguru, via Wikimedia Commons
Headstand: Turn Your World Upside Down 5 of 8
When you turn your body upside down, you increase circulation back to your heart. This drains away fluid and congestion, leaving you feeling refreshed.
What it can teach you about your relationship: Sometimes our relationships require a similar upending. It's easy to get into a rut — doing the same things day after day. Things get stale. Dinner conversations become awkward. Bedroom life loses its oomph. But turning things upside down — sleeping on the other side of the bed, asking a question you've never asked before, trying a new activity together — can refresh your relationship and transform staleness into excitement.
Photo credit: olgysha2008, via iStockPhoto.com
Child’s Pose: Rest with Your Partner 6 of 8
It might be a resting pose, but Child's Pose requires a careful alignment. When done correctly, it lengthens the spine, opens the heart, relaxes the back and allows you to completely let go.
What it can teach you about your relationship: Too often we forget to rest into our partners. This is especially true after the newness of a relationship has faded. Suddenly we are go-go-go with work and other commitments. We're glued to our phones, filled with tension and stress, and prioritizing work over love and family. Life and relationships require a balance. Build an oasis of rest into every day, and invite your spouse into that oasis.
Photo credit: iofot, via iStockPhoto.com
Corpse Pose: Let Your Partner Support You 7 of 8
The final pose of any yoga class, Corpse Pose is deceptive and sometimes referred to as "the more difficult yoga pose of all." That's because it requires a complete surrender along with something that most of us find disconcerting: vulnerability. Yet when you allow the floor to support you and you just let go, you open yourself up to a deep sense of oneness.
What it can teach you about your relationship: Relationships require us to surrender, be vulnerable, and, occasionally, to allow our partner's to hold us or, at times, even carry us. Have the courage to occasionally be weak.
Photo credit: Robert Bejil, via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons
Namaste: See the Light in Your Spouse 8 of 8
At the end of every yoga class, everyone places their hands at their hearts and says "Namaste," which means "I bow to the light in you." This beautiful gesture helps you connect with the purest part of yourself — and teaches you to acknowledge that purity in others.
What it can teach you about your relationship: Imagine how your relationship would change if several times a day you took time to notice and feel grateful for your partner's best qualities. Too often we only notice the negative: the dishes that didn't get washed, that eye roll that our significant other didn't manage to hide, the missed birthday card, and on and on. We must make a special effort to notice the positive, and especially the positive goodness that we experience so often, but take completely for granted. A mental Namaste in the morning and in the evening will help you to remember and champion the best in your spouse so you can stay in love.
Photo credit: Shironosov, via iStockPhoto.com
Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.