Mark and I had been in a happy relationship for 2 years. All of our friends would comment about how much fun we had together and tease us about our PDA (get a room!). Then he told me he had been offered a job in another part of the state, 6 hours away. We had discussed his desire to relocate, but for various reasons, I wasn’t able to move with him. There were some talks about staying together, although both of us were reluctant to try a long-distance relationship. We decided to practice some partner yoga poses, and this answered some questions that until that day had been unasked.
Try this short and simple practice with your partner to facilitate an exploration of your relationship.
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Begin seated facing one another. One hand to the other’s heart and your hand on top with either eyes closed or making soft contact as your breathing becomes entrained. If you like, set an intention silently or share it with your partner if you choose. Notice if you feel comfortable sharing or want to keep it to yourself. Do you share your deepest, most private self with your partner?
Turn back to back for a gentle twist. Find ground and root the sitting bones downward. On an exhale, twist gently to the right. Each partner will bring the left hand to their own right knee and their right hand toward the partner’s left thigh or knee. Lean gently towards one another and keep the awareness on the partner’s breath. Allow your partner to support you even as you lose sight of one another. In this pose, we turn equally towards and away from one another. How do you choose to see it? Repeat on the other side.
Child’s pose/ supported backbend
One partner comes into child’s pose, using support if needed. The other partner brings the sacrum close to the bottom partner’s sacrum and leans back gently, letting their body weight rest to create a supported backbend. The partner on the bottom can reach up and hold the top partner’s hands or wrists to increase the stretch slightly. Communication is key here. Let your partner know when you’ve reached your edge: edge of the stretch, the weight on you, the place where discomfort is outweighing comfort or fun in the pose. In partnership in general, this is a key component. How do you support or be supported by your partner in a way that works for you? Is there a balance of giving and receiving in your relationship?
Press up to standing
Sit back to back and bend the knees, placing feet down. Walk the feet a little closer and link arms. Together, press into the earth and into one another to rise to standing. This can be fun or a bit of a disaster, depending on sizing, strength, and willingness to commit. Notice what happens here. Is your relationship a power struggle, or do you work together, playing to each of your strengths with a sense of equality? How committed to one another are you both?
Stand side by side, and wrap the inside arm around your partner’s waist. Bring the weight strongly into the inside leg and allow the outer leg to bend and the foot to rest along the inside of the standing leg as the knee turns gently outward. Bring the outside hand together with your partner’s, pressing lightly in prayer position. As we balance we naturally sway gently, like a tree in a soft breeze. How does it feel to rely on your partner to hold you up as you lean into one another? Does any part of you want to lean away or abandon the pose when it becomes difficult? Repeat on the other side.
Press down to seated.
Stand back to back and link arms again. Press your backs together and slowly lower to the floor.
Seated alternate nostril breathing
This one is for extra credit!
Sit facing your partner, and get close. Lean towards each other and bring your right nostrils together to softly close them. Inhale slowly through the left nostril, then change sides, bringing the left nostrils together to softly close them. Exhale through the right nostril, then slowly inhale. Change sides, exhale through the left. This is one round of nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing. Repeat a few times if you can keep it going. This may lead to giggling, snort-laughing or even some kissing. This pose is a great gage of fun and openness in your relationship. Are you both willing to try new things, especially together? Is there a sense of fun, open-mindedness, and exploration?
Mark and I had a great time with this practice. We realized we are still very much in love, committed to our relationship and that we wanted to stay together. We’ve been exploring all the aspects of a long-distance relationship and at this time it is working well (more on that later).