This article first appeared in mindbodygreen.com and is written by Lauren Eckstrom
Whether you practice yoga with or without your partner, the ancient teachings of yoga can greatly support and help sustain a healthy, positive and dynamic intimate relationship. Thousands of years ago Patanjali created The Eight Limbs of Yoga, from which we can utilize the first limb, or the Yamas, to help guide us toward the highest experience of intimate relationship. The Yamas encompass ethics and integrity in how we practice yoga both on and off the mat.
The opposite of non-harming is the energy of compassion. Intimate relationships will always present certain challenges and frustrations that can trigger harmful, reactive behavior. Putting yoga into action off that mat and in your relationship requires carefully watching the moments when heat rises, and mindfully practicing compassion. This is especially true in the things we say, the actions we take, and even the thoughts we have. In emotionally full moments, watch your thoughts, words, and actions. Take a deep breath, a step back, and align with the perspective that’s for the highest good of all involved.
Truth leads to a deep quality of strength and integrity within a relationship. Truth is truth. Whether a lie you tell is hiding something large or whether the lie is small, it all matters. Honesty requires courage and isn’t always comfortable. Risk being honest over being comfortable to help elevate the relationship’s foundation of trust and goodness.
Given today’s hectic lifestyles, your quality time together is more precious than ever. The guideline of non-stealing in the modern day advises us to be fully present with our partner. Take small steps, such as leaving cellphones and computers out of the bedroom, to enhance your quality time. Leave aside distractions and consider putting small complaints and arguments to the side to maximize your moments spent with each other. Things such as email, social media notifications, and even work stresses all need to be justify aside at some point. Keep moments such as dinner time, bath time, and bedtime as sacred corners in your day for giving gratitude and sharing love.
Continence, or celibacy, in ancient times was applicable to yogis and monks who completely stepped away from worldly pursuits. In modern times as householders, continence signifies a deeply respectful and pure use of sexual intimacy. Everything revolves around intention; as a couple, create an intention for making love so that sexual intimacy becomes a powerful, beautiful and transcendent form of communication within your relationship.
Everyone needs space. Non-hoarding encourages us to have trust and faith that space is a safe thing to create for each other within relationship. The tendency in an unhealthy relationship is to have fear about the other partner growing or evolving into someone different from the person they currently are. It’s important to have the willingness to give our partners space to grow as human beings. Whether that’s going on a meditation retreat, going back to school, or even going to a yoga class. Have faith that a balanced amount of space will bring more happiness and joy into your relationship.
Although the teachings of the Yamas are ancient, they’re more relevant than ever to contemporary times. Ultimately, by bringing this wisdom into action we transform not only our intimate relationships and ourselves, but also the world around us.
Lauren Eckstrom is a yoga teacher based in Santa Monica, California. With background and training in Vinyasa based Power Yoga, her classes combine creative sequencing and flows with a focus on safe, sound alignment.
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