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Cultivating Closeness and Connection with Your Partner in the Era of COVID

It's not like yoga.. and it's not like therapy. It's making peace with what's inside, making peace with your partner, and it happens in real-time. [...] My partner and I both experienced this yoga-therapy-magic. And we haven't been the same since.”

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Have the realities of Covid put stress or strain upon your relationship? Sharing spaces and times of day that normally would have had you each in your own office? Amidst all the turmoil and unknowns of the future finding connection can be challenging.

I want to ask you and your partner to take fifteen to thirty minutes to do the following exercise. Read through the directions, set the time aside, turn off phones and other distractions (if kids are in the picture, take time after they have gone to bed). 

STEP 1: Stand facing each other, then turn your backs towards one another, not touching, have space in between. Have your feet hips distance apart, roll your shoulders down your back, press down through the soles of your feet and lift through the top of your head.

Bring intention into your body. Notice and be aware of your body in the space, feel the soles of your feet underneath you, feel the ground underneath the soles of your feet. 

Take a breath. Lengthen the breath as you inhale through your nose, lengthen it even a bit more as you exhale through your mouth.

Starting at the top of your head, just notice your body in space. You are a person, in your personhood you inhabit a body, as you inhabit a body you take up space, learning how to take up space and not play small or abdicate spaces of yourself is a journey we all embark upon. Especially when we are in relationships. How can I connect to my partner? How can I show up more authentically? Are just a couple of the questions we can ask ourselves.

Starting at the top of your head, scan your body. Acknowledge sensation, lack of sensation. Take time in pacing your exploration out slowly, both you and your partner are doing this exercise while your backs are towards each other. Make a mental note of what you notice and are aware of happening within you. 

Let this part of the exercise take 2-3 minutes.

STEP 2: Next, you and your partner back up towards each other until your backs are touching.

Then once again follow the above steps.

Take a breath. Lengthen the breath as you inhale through your nose, lengthen it even a bit more as you exhale through your mouth.

Starting at the top of your head, notice your body in space. This time also take in the places of your body that touch your partner’s body. Breathe and notice sensation, lack of sensation and what your experience is of your body and the presence of your partner’s body.

Take time in pacing your exploration out slowly, both you and your partner are doing this exercise while your backs are now touching. Make a mental note of what you notice and are aware of happening within you.

Let this second part also take 2-3 minutes, notice comfort, discomfort, arousal, tenderness, thoughts and emotions along with physical sensation and energy present. Take a breath. Lengthen the breath as you inhale through your nose, lengthen it even a bit more as you exhale through your mouth. Starting at the top of your head, just notice your body in space.

STEP 3: Lastly, step back away from your partner. Once again there is space between both of your backs. Starting at the top of your head, scan your body. Acknowledge sensation, lack of sensation. Take time in pacing your exploration out slowly, both you and your partner are doing this exercise while your backs are once again apart from each other. Make a mental note of what you notice and are aware of happening within you. Let this third step take 2-3 minutes. 

Breathe.

Take a moment.

STEP 4: Sit down facing your partner keeping a silent moment as you integrate your experience of this exercise.

You and your partner take the next 15-20 minutes to talk through the exercise.

Here is how the conversation is going to go, pick one person to start sharing their experience. The other partner will be quiet and listen. The person sharing will express what it was like for them through each step using “I” statements. “I felt close to you when our backs touched, I didn’t want to step away.”

Whatever the experience was for the person sharing, the partner listens. When the partner speaking is finished, the one listening now shares “When I heard you say ______(what the person shared), I felt_______(partner’s experience in hearing what was shared.)” Then it is the listeners turn to share their own experience of the exercise while the partner now becomes the listener. Changing roles while keeping the format the same. 

This is a shortened version of one of the first exercises I take couples through when they come to me for yoga therapy for couples. They have become some of my favorite sessions to offer. After all, did you know that the word yoga literally means “union”?

Bringing the reality of “union” (the meaning of the word, “yoga”) to couples through using body, movement, breath, and structured dialogue welcomes deepening awareness and transformation within the relationship. Couples can learn so much by bringing the body into their therapy sessions, cultivating closeness and connection amidst all the turbulence that Covid and life in 2020 has brought.

One of my clients captured the essence of it the best when they shared, “It’s not like yoga.. and it’s not like therapy. It’s making peace with what’s inside, making peace with your partner, and it happens in real-time. […] My partner and I both experienced this yoga-therapy-magic. And we haven’t been the same since.”

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