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  • Cindy Lin

Yoga Off The Mat - Yoga And the Relationship

Updated: Jun 24

Let’s talk about yoga off the mat today. A lot of you already knew that Neil is my husband and also my teacher, you may have heard our story. if you haven’t, then I would like to share with you the story of how we met and how yoga strengthens our relationship.


How We Met


It was in his Mysore class when we first met. I didn’t go to his class until after teaching full-time for few years. There were always a number of reasons why I wasn’t able to join his teacher training or workshops. 8 years ago in June I walked into his Mysore room, it was a bit of a strange but familiar feeling, I feel like I knew this person when he gave me the first adjustment in Trikonasana, and a few month later, Neil told me that he felt a six foot tall alien walked in to the room when I walked in…


Before we got married, as a yoga student a lot of times I had the thought, “How can I date my yoga teacher?” Also, on the other side, as a yoga teacher I worried that if we eventually break up, would it affect his career? However, the universe has its own plan. One day, Neil woke up in the morning and heard a voice in his ear saying “It’s time go go back.” Shortly after we decided to get married and moved back to England, it was a brand new chapter for both of us.

Leave no Stone Unturned.


We had a lovely spiritual wedding in India before registered in Hong Kong, with the blessing from our teacher Sri O.P Tiwari. Tiwariji said “the secret of a happy marriage is: leave no stone unturned.”


I thought about it often, this short sentence offers so much wisdom.

Yoga in the Relationships


There are three main things I leaned from yoga philosophy that helped, not only in marriage, but applies in all relationships.

Awareness

Awareness is widely discussed in recent years. For me, the biggest learning from awareness is to practice “Being responsive, rather than reactive”. Being conscious of thoughts and emotions, and being mindful of the behaviours that accompany them.

Our partners usually experience our emotions on the front line, and it’s hard to avoid it especially when our energy is low. Yoga teaches us to observe our thoughts, knowing that we can choose how to respond to it. There is always time to stop yourself before saying or doing something you might regret.

Obviously I am still practicing, sometimes I catch it just in time and other times I loose it. This is a life long practice.

Ahimsa (Non Harming)

When it comes to people we love the most like our partner or family, sometimes we say or do hurtful things we don’t mean, or it could be other way round.


Ahimsa is the first limb of Ashtanga yoga. It can be applied throughout life in various ways. What I learned the most from practicing Ahimsa, is try to believe others have good intention, most people won’t say or do things purposely to hurt you. Meanwhile, whenever you feel hurt, be aware of your emotions and try not to attack back straight away. Think from their point of view, then talk about it mindfully.

This can be challenging, but I believe that if everyone has this idea in mind, all the relationship can be peaceful.

Own Your Emotion

Neil used to say “I can’t make you feel anything, actually no one can make you feel anything.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I felt this way because of what he said, and I had that emotion because I care about him. Am I wrong?

The truth is, only I can decide how I feel, I am the only person to be responsible for my own emotions, only I can choose to be happy or sad.

In Yoga Sutra 2.33-34, Patanjali mentioned, “Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam”

Vitarka=Nagative thoughts; Badhane=when disturbed by; pratipaksha=opposite thought; bhavanam=should be thought of.

“When disturb by negative thoughts, opposite[positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavanam” (Sri Swami Satchidanada, 1978)

In this sutra Patanjali is teaching us that if we change our thoughts, we see things differently. For example, when Neil and I first moved to England, I felt home sick regularly, and when my energy was low, I started to complain why did we moved to this country, it’s so cold, my English is not good enough, I have no friends, I can’t do anything… I feel trapped.


However, I could also think from other point of view; I have leaned so much after moving to England. By stepping out of my comfort zone I grew so much more during these few years than the previous 30 years. I am more independent and more confident. Actually, I quite like this version of myself, who is willing to take on challenges in life!

The reality didn’t change, it’s my thoughts about it that changed. These two different version of the story are the little drama happening in my mind, but I created the opposite perspective on how I see the world. Poor Neil, he had to experience all my ups and downs.

Tiwariji would often say, “There is no problem in the mind, the mind itself is the problem.”

The mind tends to focus on the negative, and the brain tends to over think, however through practicing “Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam” we can train our mind. It’s a bit like training a muscle, it will get stronger and steadier with practice.


Know Your Self-Value


Self-Value is built from within, knowing that you are good enough and worthy of love, knowing who you truly are. No one can change you through negative words or actions if you know who you are and what you are about. It’s how we become stronger and it’s how we find peace within. When you have peace from within, the people around you will feel it too.


Namaste.


墊子外的瑜伽練習 - 瑜伽與伴侶關係


我在教課幾年後才踏進Neil的Mysore教室,在那之前他已經在亞洲教課20多年,但是這麼多年我總是因為不同的原因錯過了他的師資訓練和各種工作坊。8年前的六月我第一次走進他的教室練習,從第一天跟他談話的過程中就有一種熟悉感,好像之前就認識這個人。而他說,我走進教室的時候他背對我,但是感覺有一個六呎高的外星人走進來...。


還沒有決定要結婚的時候,身為他的學生的我猶豫了一段時間,總是有:「我怎麼可以約會自己的老師!」的想法,而身為老師的那個我更是一直想「萬一分手了會不會造成他工作困擾」。但是老天爺總是有他充滿智慧的安排,我們結婚了,搬回了他的故鄉 - 英國。搬回英國的契機是,有一天早上他說他聽到一個聲音在他耳邊說:「是時候回英國了。」就這樣開啟了新的一章。

Leave No Stone Unturned


我們後來在印度的學院在上師Tiwariji的祝福下舉辦了一個小小的典禮,Tiwari老師說:「維持婚姻的秘訣,是總是對對方誠實,任何事都攤開來說。」

“Leave no stone unturned.” 老師說。後來我常常想起這句話,覺得這句簡單的話實在是包含太多的智慧了。

瑜珈與伴侶關係


有三件我從瑜伽哲學裡學到的事情,不只在婚姻裡適用,我覺得對我生活中的各種關係都有很大的幫助。

覺察

這幾年越來越多領域在談自我覺察,自我覺察教會我最多的除了感受自己的情緒之外,就是練習「回應,而不是反應。」


最親密的伴侶常常是在第一線感受到我們的情緒的,難免會在自己能量低的時候影響到對方,瑜珈的練習教會我們看見每個念頭,接著選擇自己要用什麼樣的方式回應,或是在說出自己會後悔的話或是做出失控的行為之前在心裡喊停。


當然這是練習,有成功也有失敗的時候,我就是一直在每次情緒來的時候練習,希望能夠打破自己過去的習氣。

不傷害


面對最親密的人,伴侶或是家人,自己或是對方都難免會心急口快,八肢瑜伽第一肢的第一條誡律就是不傷害。

不傷害的應用非常廣,在關係裡的不傷害,我學到最多的是相信對方的意圖是好的,不會是故意的,自己也不要因為感到受傷就反過來想攻擊對方。而不傷害對方的同時,也不要委屈自己,好好說話,帶著覺知好好溝通,試著站在對方的立場思考。

這真的不容易,偶爾也會失控,但是雙方都願意做這樣的練習,那我相信不論什麼樣的關係都能得到和平。

做自己情緒的主人


Neil之前會說 “ I can’t make you feel anything!”一開始我完全無法理解這句話,明明就是因為他說了什麼做了什麼,我才生氣的啊!而且如果我不在意他,我會有那麼多情緒嗎?但事實是,只有自己可以左右自己的情緒,只有自己能讓自己開心快樂或生氣傷心。

瑜伽經2.33-34中提到“Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam.”

Vitarka=負面的念頭 Badhane=被...干擾; pratipaksha=相反的念頭; bhavanam= 應該要被想起.

當有困擾你的念頭產生的時候,馬上用一個相反的念頭代替它。帕坦加利在這則經文裡教導我們,只要改變想法,結果就會不同。

比如說,剛搬到英國頭幾年我常常很想家,低潮的時候就會埋怨Neil,覺得為什麼我們要搬來這麼冷的國家,我在這裡沒有朋友,我英文說不好,什麼也做不好,覺得自己在英國手腳都被綁住了!


這時候,如果從另一個角度看,搬到英國這幾年因為各種學習帶給我比過去30年更多的成長,踏出舒適圈後我學會了很多事情,更獨立也更有自信。我其實很喜歡這樣勇於挑戰的自己。


像這樣同樣的一個現實狀況,卻有兩個不同的觀點,客觀的事實並沒有變化,這兩個觀點都只是我心裡的小劇場,卻帶給我兩種相反的情緒,連身邊的伴侶也被情緒波及。


Tiwari老師常常說,我們的心智(Mind)不是我們的朋友,我們要學習控制它。

心智的自然傾向總是往負面的方向走,頭腦總是太用力的過度保護自己,但是只要持續做這個練習,我們的腦袋也能和肌肉一樣,越來越能夠感覺到穩定和控制。

肯定自我價值

在關係之中的多次練習之後我也終於瞭解, 自我價值是在自己建立的,只要真正相信自己相信的事實,別人怎麼說都無法影響你。只要知道自己是誰,並不會因為別人怎麼說就變成他們口中或心目中的樣子,那心裡就會比較容易得到平靜了。而當自己的心裡真正平靜,身邊最親近的人也會感染那份平靜。

希望大家喜歡今天的墊子外的瑜珈的分享,讓我們在墊子上和墊子外都一起實踐瑜珈,


Namaste。


(影音版請看下面連結)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4G0wGco8Hk


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