The Yoga of True Connection
To me, yoga is about making a true connection, first to myself and my Essence, and then to others. Yoga is often defined as Union – with our own body, mind and spirit. But we are social animals. We need to connect to others to feel whole. We rely on community and thrive on attention for our aliveness. But if all our attention goes outwards to others, we feel disconnected from ourselves. And if all our attention goes inwards, we can feel isolated and alone. So a balanced yogic lifestyle involves both connecting inwards and outwards.
But how do we find that balance? First, we need to turn inside to know who we are and what we truly want. Until we know our true desires and our limitations, we won’t be able to communicate those clearly in relationships. So taking the time to practice and listen to ourselves is key. That’s what traditional yoga practices give us. They help us to listen inwards and to get present enough to hear the voice of the heart. Do I want intimacy or do I want to be alone? What will be of most service to my higher self in this moment? And what about now…and now? We’re always changing so the more present we are with ourselves, the more we can follow the truth of how we’re evolving, moment by moment. With practice we can learn to listen to what we’re wanting and needing on the fly. From there, we can decide how to respond.
In relationships, part of responding skillfully is communicating our needs with clarity. To me, this is yoga too. Yoga teachings tell us to practice non-harming, truthfulness, kindness, compassion, sincerity, patience, generosity, and more. So we have many guidelines for communication from the ancient texts. But the texts can’t tell us what we need in each moment. That’s an inside job. And knowing and communicating it is a big key to relationship harmony. So often, we struggle in relationships because we’re not honoring our own needs for connection or space. We all need both and not necessarily at the same time. One person may want to be close when the other wants space. And when we override our needs, we tend to create conflict. For example, if I try to connect with Patrick or a friend when I don’t feel present or available, it usually doesn’t go well. I don’t give my full attention and feel impatient or distracted. And when Patrick tries to connect with me when he’s distracted or needing space, I feel it and the connection is unsatisfying.
So to create true connections, the best way to start is with yourself. Spend time connecting with your deeper self with whatever practices work best for you. Do this regularly, ideally daily, so you never lose contact with your true nature. Then, as you move into connection with others, you will be more able to honor your own rhythms. If you communicate your needs for connection or space with compassion and kindness, and honor them by only connecting when you feel fully available, you’re much more likely to make a deep connection than a shallow one, and you’ll both be more fulfilled.
May your yoga support a deep connection with yourself as well as with the ones you love.
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