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 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.
墊子外的瑜伽練習 - 瑜伽與伴侶關係
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
“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。
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.