One Saturday morning in a yoga class, I rose into a crescent lunge and prepared to bend back, possibly far enough to peek at the wall behind me.
“Sink into your hips, and build the pose,” my teacher instructed. She explained how important it is to ground down in order to feel the energy rise up. She stressed strength in the core as she told us to grow taller on the inhale and open our hearts as we exhaled. (in yoga, as in life, “Inhale: grow taller. Exhale: go deeper.)
“Don’t just jack your back,” she cautioned. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
For years, I practiced yoga in the absence of such helpful guidance. In a darkened room full of eager students and loud music, I mindlessly rushed into poses with the desire to simply get there. I thought it was all about the flow: moving fluidly, feeling graceful, and looking cool. I didn’t understand the building process, nor did I consider the strength of my core. In my haste, I didn’t fully honor my body.
I was wrong.
In a similar way, we often make the same mistakes when entering into romantic relationships. We find ourselves drawn to another and rush toward the object of our affection, fully opening our hearts and dancing wildly to the beat of a new emotion. It’s easy to get caught up in the intensity as we flow together in thoughtless bliss. We just want to be there. We just want to do that. All other aspects of life and self, be damned.
Been there, done that. And you know what? I hurt myself. More than once.
On or off the mat, the healthy way to open your heart is to first ground down and grow within. But often we surrender our inner strength and lean backward too soon, confident that our partner will support us. The damage begins at this early stage but the delicious New Relationship Energy keeps the pain at bay.
All is well… until it isn’t. When things go horribly wrong, we find ourselves crumpled on the ground, drained of all energy and unable to stand alone.
If only we had the discipline to approach love as if it were a crescent lunge: sink into the hips (this is yogic-code for “make peace with your emotional bullshit”), find stability within yourself (don’t dive into a relationship if you’re wobbly), grow taller from your core (harness the energy to be your own person, stand tall and self-assured) and then— only then, should you lean back and let your heart shine.
When we take a more mindful approach, love comes from a place of quiet confidence instead of feverish desperation. In this scenario, we set the stage for a relationship ripened by respect for ourselves as well as for one another. In this scenario, we have strength enough to stand even if things don’t work out.