Lately, I’ve been thinking about how my yoga practice affects everyone I come into contact with. For some people, it is obvious: as a yoga teacher, I help guide my students’ practice. For my friends, I’m a never-ending stream of ideas, meditations suggestions, and thoughts on how to stretch out that tight calf muscle. But until today I hadn’t taken the time to think about what effect my yoga practice has had on my relationship with my partner.
Being in our mid (me) and late (him) twenties, we’ve had our share of inquiries about whether we’re “in it for the long haul” or whether “he’s the one”. (I’m not even sure that’s appropriate after a year together, but inquiring minds apparently want to know.) And I’ve honestly never had any idea what to say to those questions. Is he the one? I don’t have the slightest clue about how I would figure that out. I’ve had the same best friends since I was seven years old and there are days when I don’t know if they are the ones.
During a slow practice the other day, I found my answer. But in finding the solution, I realized that I’d been trying to answer the wrong question. When we buy into the Disney version of “The One” who will somehow sweep all of our problems, faults, and insecurities, we are destined to be disappointed not only in our partner, but in ourselves. By looking at “love” as a goal instead of a process, we are set up for despair and failure.
It’s the same way I started out experiencing the asana practice. There was a goal to achieve, a form to force my body to adhere to. Palms flat on the floor in utanasana? Shoulders on the ground in Saddle Pose? Box checked. Yoga done.
But once I checked all the boxes, something radical happened. All my little nagging aches and pains turned into painful injuries that unchecked those boxes I had spent months ticking off. My asana practice forced me to see it as a process. And when I did, I found it easier to get on my mat and bring joy with me off of it.
So what if instead of asking, “Is he the one?”, I asked “What can I do to love him better right now?” This lets me focus on how I can make the relationship better, and takes away his responsibility to somehow fill the void in me. It makes me accept the relationship and myself exactly as it is. But the right question also gives us space to grow. It makes our relationship a process, shifting our perspective from “What can this other person do for me?” to “How can I more fully experience my relationship just as it is in the present moment?”
So, the next time an acquaintance asks me if he’s “the One”, I’ll respond with “I’m trying”…and not even sweat the confused look.
Aubrey is a Political Science PhD student in northern California who spends her work days studying political violence and her non-work hours trying to be as non-violent as possible. The non-violence very often involves cooking kale for everyone she can get into her dining room. She teaches vinyasa yoga with an emphasis on anxiety and stress relief for students, veterans, and people suffering from PTSD. She is a graduate of Pavones Yoga Center’s 200-hour yoga teacher training.