Take Your Yoga to Heart

You’ve probably already heard all the jokes about people who do yoga having superior, spectacular sex. (You’ll generally get this with any discipline in which you spend hour-long chunks a mere 12 inches from the opposite sex, wearing revealing clothes.) But you probably haven’t heard many jokes about people who do yoga having better romantic lives. Fact is, a lot of the tenets and philosophies that help you strengthen your body and be in the moment can, when applied to your love life in general, work similar wonders. It’s pretty logical if you think about it. Yoga is all about connecting the mind and the body to find some peace in a crazy world. Relationships are all about connecting with another person to find peace in a crazy world. So read on to see five reasons why getting your forehead at your knees in uttanasana and the path to romantic bliss may be one and the same.

1. Focus on your own practice, not your neighbor’s.

You have always loved your amazing Camel pose. Then, one day you look over at Girl With Blonde Pigtails and her Camel pose just kicks your Camel pose’s ass! Eyes on your own paper in yoga—which is an even better idea when it comes to relationships. Someone always is going to be having better or more sex, a boyfriend who buys her better presents, or a husband whose parents are less annoying. And there will always be people you can look at and say, wow, we have better sex, better vacations, and better contractors re-doing our bathroom than they do! Ultimately, none of the bad feelings you get by putting yourself down or the good feelings you get by propping yourself up are going to make a difference. It’s your relationship, and you can love it, hate it, or leave it, but you can’t make it better or worse with pride or envy any more than you can get Girl With Blonde Pigtails to lend you her genetically engineered hip flexors.

2. Push yourself…

Do a half-baked job on difficult postures, come out of a pose the minute you feel a strain, and your yoga practice will never get anywhere. It’s the same with relationships: Pull out the second there’s a hint of discomfort, and you’ll never find the right person. Remember, we grow only when we have the courage to go beyond our comfort zone.

3. … But don’t do anything that hurts.

The comfort zone is there for a reason.  Just as you would allow yourself to acknowledge that going into some extremely deep backbend from a standing position might not be in your immediate future, you should also learn to walk away from relationships that don’t work and from people who are unhealthy for you. There’s a difference between being determined and being a damn fool.

4. Remember, it always feels good once you get started.

It’s easy NOT to do yoga. You’re tired. You have more important things to do. You tell yourself you’ll go tomorrow, when, miraculously, you won’t feel that same exhausted overextended feeling you’ve had for years. We can have the same feelings about sex. (That is when we’re in a long-term relationship; when sex is new, we build our whole life around it.) But the moment you have to start persuading yourself to have sex with someone is not the moment to break up, it is the moment to double your efforts to get back to that feeling you had before. So it used to be easy to make the decision to have sex. And now it’s harder. It’s still good once you get started.  And when it’s over, you never say to yourself, “Oh, God, why did I do that?” Oh, and if you don’t have sex, your relationship will fall apart. That is a promise. A relationship without sex is like a yoga practice without, well, yoga.

5.  Remember that there are good days and bad days.

Doing yoga, it is very tempting to think that you are getting “better” or “worse” at it. Probably neither is true, or certainly not as true as you’d want to think. It’s a pretty good way to make yourself crazy. Want to know an even better way to go insane? Decide, similarly, every single day whether you’re in a good relationship or a bad one. On Wednesday, you think you’re going to be madly in love forever. Thursday you are sooooo over it. Friday is so-so. The truth is that your relationship, like your yoga practice, is never as perfect—or as awful—as you think it is. It just is. This is sad and great and soothing and disturbing all at once. Welcome to your life.

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