Yoga can transform your body, mind, spirit, and relationships.
I first started practicing Iyenga Yoga 20 years ago when I had an overuse injury from performing as a musician. I needed to find a way to help repair and strengthen my shoulder and I had heard great things about the benefits of yoga. This was long before I was a relationship counsellor, but yoga helped me in many other ways than just increasing my strength. Yoga helped me discover more about myself – my mind, body and spirit. While I wouldn’t call myself a ‘yogi’, I have gone to classes fairly regularly across the last two decades and I have always appreciated the benefits I’ve experienced. The yoga benefits have included decreasing stress, increasing relaxation and increasing my strength and flexibility. One surprising yoga benefit I’ve experienced is an improvement in my relationships. And when I speak with my counselling clients who do yoga, they too experience some of the same benefits in their relationships. Here are my 5 benefits of yoga for your relationships.
1. Yoga helps you connect your body and mind
Yoga has this amazing way of helping you connect with your body and your mind. When you’re holding some of the poses (asanas), it’s just not possible to ignore your body. Another benefit of yoga is you become more aware of your mind and how your mind works. To develop good relationships, you need your body and mind to be connected. If you only relate to people from just one or the other, your relationships can tend to be shallow and unsatisfying. Pay attention to your body and your mind when you are relating to others. Is one working more than the other? You can use the mindful presence from yoga to feel more connected to the people you care about.
2. Yoga increases your sensitivity
A beautiful benefit of yoga is it helps you develop your sensitivity. Through the practice of yoga, you become more sensitive to yourself – listening to your body, noticing your thoughts and paying attention to your breath. Yoga helps you nurture your relationship with yourself. And when you can develop an intimate connection to yourself, this makes you more available to others. The sensitivity you develop with yourself is a great skill you can use with others. Are you sensitive to your partner, family or friends? Are you tuned in to what’s happening with them emotionally and physically? Developing a keen sensitivity and the ability to “tune in” to others is a key ingredient in creating and sustaining rich and rewarding relationships.
3. Yoga teaches you to live in the “now”
If you’ve ever been in a challenging yoga pose, you know you can’t not be in the “now”. Yoga invites us to constantly come back to the present moment and pay attention to our body, our thoughts and our breath. This is a wonderful skill that can benefit your relationships. When you are able to be fully present in your relationships, you can experience much more pleasure, such as laughter, joy, and sadness. With so many distractions today due to technology and social media, staying present in your relationships is fast becoming a disappearing skill. In your relationships, notice how present (or not present) you are as you engage with those you care about. When you strive to be in the “now” you’ll feel much more alive and your relationships will flourish.
4. Yoga helps you soften your defences
One of the benefits I love about yoga is the experience of opening and releasing. Many of the yoga asanas help you to open your body and release your tension. When it comes to your relationships, staying open and receptive is a key relationship skill. When you are able to stay open in your relationships, you don’t need to defend yourself. And we know that relationships that have high levels of defensiveness often do not last. When you can soften your defences you will be less reactive. Reducing your reactivity is an effective way to improve your relationships. Maintaining the openness you gain from yoga and bringing that into your relationships can bring about profound change.
5. Yoga helps you opens your heart to love
If you haven’t tried yoga before, this may be hard to understand. But there is a unique experience you can get from yoga, which relates to opening and releasing. When you open and release your body you also open your heart. Opening your heart is a powerful way to open yourself to giving and receiving love in your life. Even if you’re single, yoga can help you to become more open-hearted, so you’re more open to connections with others. This is the spiritual dimension of yoga which is hard to describe, but can be experienced through the practice of the poses. If you’re wanting to open your heart, yoga can be a gentle and supportive way to bring more love into your life and allow you to give more love to others.
“ Only when we deepen our appreciation of ourselves, and what we have to offer, can we begin to truly appreciate and truly support and love another. When you begin a relationship with someone it is the relationship with your self that continues to deepen as you learn to share your space with a partner.” Ravi Singh
Have you found yoga to benefit your relationships? Let us know your thoughts by adding a comment below!
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Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.