AN EDGY ALTERNATIVE TO DATE NIGHT: COUPLES YOGA
By Jenny Arrington
Applause erupted as an earnest couple pressed the pads their feet together and pushed. They had reached the full expression of their partner version of Upavistha Konasana, all four legs straight as they held hands and balanced on their sitz bones. The other couples in the room clapped and smiled with the compassion of those who had just moments earlier wondered if they would figure out what looked and felt like a very challenging position. Six couples in the cozy loft at Urban Yoga Chicago were embarking on a Couples Yoga workshop.
This partner pose was a perfect metaphor for relationship challenges. In a committed relationship we can find ourselves in scenarios that feel uncomfortable, challenging, and seemingly impossible to overcome. In Couples Yoga these scenarios are recreated in a supportive, calm environment. I share cues to help the couple achieve poses safely, while encouraging their communication. Some of these partner poses feel insurmountable at first and people think they aren’t strong or flexible enough to do them. Their first perceptions are deceiving though because it doesn’t take brute strength or an advanced yoga practice to achieve these shapes. The key is clear communication and working together. Every time, without fail, the couples delight in what they’ve achieved after a little bit of patient communication, along with some trial and error.
Along with overcoming challenges, couples will get to explore the edges of their comfort zones in a safe, controlled environment. Fear is the catalyst for most interpersonal conflict. Our brain is wired to pay attention to fear so whenever there is a perceived threat, we often let our thoughts run away in a storm of negative thoughts. With couples, the fears generally hover around finances, sex, desire, jealousy, and power differentials. Couples Yoga allows couples to be in a safe environment while experiences small doses of fear. I’m right there to help guide participants to the edge of their comfort zone so they can experience sitting with that little bit of fear and working with their partner to move through it.
Erin Miller shared her experience in the workshop, “Couples yoga was a wonderful way to introduce my partner to yoga and my studio. We learned exercises that allowed us to be part of and assist in one another’s yoga experience. Working through those challenges together was transformative!”
Savitree Kaur also shared her experience. “I went in tentative, unsure if I would become irritated, or if this would actually be fun for both of us. It was soooo much fun. This was a fantastic option away from the typical dinner and movie that we could do together that elevated our sense of togetherness, strategy, partnership and playfulness. It was another way to get to know each other physically and as a couple in a setting where we are both equally responsible for the experience we have. And while that may be true with everything in life, you get to see it unfold immediately, right in front of you.”
Everyone’s comfort zone has different parameters and different triggers. Some participants may feel some discomfort or embarrassment with the shared mouth-to-mouth breath work we do. Others may be pushed to their edge by the chanting or the poses. We want to trigger a little healthy discomfort so the couples get to practice how to help each other. In this environment, there’s always victory. There is enough time and support so nobody is left sitting alone with their fear. There are always spontaneous hugs, kisses, and snuggles throughout the workshop. These are unambiguous testimonies of success and connection.
Yoga is about the union of the body, mind, and spirit. A couple who practices yoga together puts themself on fertile ground to continue the growth of their union.