THE BLOG

10 Ways Yoga Can Help Your Marriage

01/21/2014 05:58 pm ET | Updated Mar 23, 2014
Peathegee Inc via Getty Images

"Yoga" translates as "union." The tradition teaches that the union we're seeking begins with ourselves and ultimately extends to all beings and to the universe itself. Marriage is also a union, a union of two persons committed to sharing their lives in a loving relationship.

Here are 10 ways yoga can help your marriage:

1.Yoga is about connection.
Practicing yoga makes you more connected to yourself. The process of slowing down and connecting to your breath makes you more aware of how you're feeling and what you're thinking. When you're better able to understand yourself, it's easier to be more understanding of others, which leads to feeling more connected.

2.Yoga makes you more compassionate.
Yoga teaches you to love and accept yourself. It teaches you to have compassion for yourself. When you can forgive yourself for not being perfect, it's much easier to be compassionate with the imperfections of others.

3.Yoga brings clarity and teaches you to take responsibility.
When you get clearer about your own stuff -- your reactive tendencies, head trips, projections, and desires, you can take responsibility for your behavior. Taking responsibility for your part in a dynamic is an important step in shifting things.

4.Yoga helps you process.
The very process of tuning in to your breath allows you to sift through your feelings and gain insight into whatever the issue is. From this more lucid place you can figure out if it's something you need to discuss with your spouse, or if it's better for you to process on your own.

5.Yoga is about softening and letting go.
The physical practice is a great teacher; at some point you run into your own stuck places and there's nowhere to run. Yoga teaches you to back off and go easy when you encounter a tight place in your body. Breathe deep. Soften. Let go.

6.Yoga breeds tenacity.
Of course you could come out of the pose (just like you could leave your marriage), but then what? That tightness will be waiting for you next time you do the pose (or when you get into a similar situation in your next relationship). With both yoga and marriage, progress requires commitment and quiet determination coupled with non-attachment. You have show up, do the work and let go of the outcome.

7.Yoga is confrontational.
So is marriage. There's no clearer mirror than the one your spouse holds up to you.
You can try and blame your spouse for your stuff, you can make him/her responsible for your happiness, but at the end of the day, it comes down to you. Who are you being in this relationship? What are you committed to? How are you willing to grow and expand your integrity? Marriage will push you to face these questions. But yoga will too.

8.Yoga teaches you to respond, not react.
Reaction is instantaneous; there's no choice involved. X happens; Y follows. The space between reactivity and responsiveness is freedom: when we become less reactive we can rest in our equanimity. We reclaim our freedom slowly one breath at a time.

9.Yoga teaches you to have a sense of humor.
Having a sense of humor really helps. It's okay; it's just yoga. Tomorrow will be better, or the next day, or the day after that. When you practice over the long term, you get a sense of the bigger picture. Not everyday will be the greatest, not every practice will feel complete. Sometimes you'll be grumpy, tired, sore, whatever. But you know it'll change and come round to feeling good again. You can relax and trust the process.

Those of you who are married know where I'm going with this; the same rules apply in marriage. Lighten up, relax. Tomorrow will be a better day.

10.Yoga makes you a better lover.
Mmm hmm. Oh yes, it does.

Yoga teaches you about restraint and abandon. It summons fearlessness and bolsters compassion. It shows you how to move with your breath, and synchronize it with others.

It's about the sex as a vehicle for connection and for increasing intimacy.

Yoga makes you a better lover because it makes you more in touch with yourself, and when you're more in touch with yourself it's easier to connect more deeply with someone else. When you show up and give generously to yourself, you can show up and give generously to another.

I rest my case.