Valentine’s Day, regardless of its origin or commercialization, brings up ideas of connection, opening the heart, and expressing love and compassion to those who we care about. Last year, I wrote about opening the heart through back bending. Back bends often times allow us to open to vulnerability, open to feeling, and open to expression, allowing us to send and feel love.
This year, I’d like to focus this Valentine-week on connection. In a yoga practice we learn how to connect our mind, body and spirit. The connection to our true self can create space and allow for a deeper connection with others. This connection can be emotional, spiritual or physical. We are able to share the love we have inside with the love of others.
Practicing yoga with others creates connection. Sharing your practice requires trust and mutual appreciation of each other. This can be experienced through taking turns leading sequences of postures or moving through an individual practice with someone else. You can also share you practice with someone by practicing a posture together through partner yoga. Partner yoga, unlike other styled of yoga, involves the physical touch
of your partner in postures.
Elysabeth Williamson, developer of Principle-based Partner Yoga, writes in a
n Elephant Journal article about what happens during partner yoga: “We touch and are touched by others. We use traction and leverage, and the kinesthetic awareness that comes from touch, to open to greater depths in our bodies and our psyches.”
Williamson continues about the benefits of partner yoga and how
it teaches us about relationships: “Our relationships are where we most easily experience the radical dichotomy we call heaven and hell. When weʼre in the heavenly realms and our relationships are flowing, life takes on a glow and we perceive everything through the eyes of love. On the contrary, when our relationships are strained, we often experience painful emotions that can be difficult to manage. We experience this duality most profoundly in our intimate relationships, but it is true in all our connections- with parents, children, siblings, friends, society, even with Nature and the Divine.”
“Partner Yoga practices help bring our relational patterns into balance. In our partner, we have a mirror, a physical presence that brings us into the present moment and paradoxically, more fully into ourselves. This presence supports us to integrate our insights into the very cells of our being, not just as an abstract mental concept, but as a fully embodied awareness. Just as in our relationships off the mat, in Partner Yoga we experience directly what it feels like to build trust, compassion, and intimacy with others. Our partners reflect back to us the qualities that we express. This is both the pleasure and the challenge of Partner Yoga, because we are also made acutely aware of those moments when we are shut down, distrustful, and unwilling to open and connect.”
To learn more about Williamson’s work and Principle-based Partner Yoga here.
Take time this week to find connection with yourself and maybe reach out to a friend or loved one. Use this time to share your yoga practice and share your love and compassion.
I’ll end with a quote by Swami Kripalu:
“Truly, the wise proclaim that love is the only path, love is the only God, and love is the only scripture. Only love can bring unity and remove the separation between all living beings. Only love purifies the body and mind. Love is not far away; it is as close as your heart. You can find it living there without walking a single step. Love is my only path. I am, in fact, a pilgrim on the path of love.