THE BLOG
09/09/2014 11:00 am ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

The Yoga ABCs for Love Quarrels: Or Using Yoga Off the Mat When Your Sweetheart Is Being a Jerk

Everyone has had a moment when they are, well, a jerk. Less than their best version, being not as kind, compassionate and loving as their could be. Often, in those moments, it is directed at the people closest to them, such as your significant other. On the receiving end, it can be unbalancing and off-putting. Much like in yoga when balance is lost in an asana, the more you try to hold it and return to balance, the more you wobble.

What you resists persists. In vrkasana, or tree pose, when someone resists losing their balance, the leg will swing out, they'll hop, and eventually topple much like a falling tree in nature. Often, everyone on the mat around them will sway, some losing their balance, too. Same holds true for the downward spiral of an argument with your sweetheart; they are less than loving, you try to correct the course, they're a jerk again, you retort, soon the fall begins and both parties are less than loving.

Also like yoga, when you release, pause, and start fresh from a rooted place, balance returns usually with ease. Use these three core yoga concepts to bring you back into balance the next time you find yourself traveling down the road of an argument.

Ahimsa or nonviolence in thought, word, and deed.

The snappiness or hurtful words you just received could easily spiral you into a train of thought that is not loving and compassionate. Be aware of where your thoughts are going. Pause. In that single moment, you can shift. There is no excuse for bad behavior. Fortunately, the behavior is not reflective of the essence. Focus on what you love most about your sweetheart. Yes, this is hard in the moment. It is a practice and takes discipline to do well, just like yoga. But if you can hold that loving thought for just 10 seconds, you just might be able to build on it before your thoughts turn to words and words turn to actions, creating a situation that is far more challenging to heal.

Breathe
In the moment of moving into the fight or flight state, you hold your breath. Muscles are momentarily depraved of oxygen as they tense, furthering the brain to rapidly decide next steps for survival. Fortunately, this is simply an argument and not a lion attack, though it could feel that way if the words are cutting. Taking a breath allows the brain to shift from the limbic to the frontal cortex.

The limbic region makes very quick decisions based on survival -- fight, flee, freeze, or submit. It is brilliant in that way, if you're actually in a situation that calls for true survival. The frontal cortex makes the more rational decisions; yes, your beloved is being a jerk in the moment but they are not always a jerk. The breath relaxes and grounds you into the knowing that this is action, not essence. The more you move into that space, the more peacefulness you bring to the equation.

Choose an asana

Every asana integrates balance, strength, flexibility, and openness. Pick one in your mind. Personally, the virabadrasanas, or warriors, are powerful asanas to remember this integration. For example, virabadrasana II, half of the body is extended towards the front of the mat or towards the future, while the other half reaches toward to back of the mat or grounds in the experiences of the past. Meanwhile, your torso, head, and all seven chakras (energy centers), are centered.

This asana requires strength, flexibility, and balance. The very nature of it is open and expansive. Performing it in your head, the body will remember all of the times it has performed this asana and react accordingly. The more grounded, open, flexible you are, the less room there is for an argument to continue, and that is your strength.

While the founders of yoga likely never intended practitioners to use it for quailing arguments, why not take the ancient healing art off the mat and into a space that needs it immediately? In the event that the ABCs aren't quick enough, you can namaste bomb your beloved! Silently chant "namaste" as a reminder that when we bow and see the Light in others, we honor the Light within. Pretty hard to be a jerk when your humbly honoring the Light.

Peace begins within, not outside, of us. Sometimes, though, it needs some help. Following these simple ABCs (and namaste) takes a bit of practice, yet is easier each and every time you engage them, though hopefully, that will not be frequent, otherwise, you may need to consider replacing that sweetheart.