When my partner and I find ourselves being passing ships in the night, when our conversations lag and our interests diverge, when pressure and stress cloud our eyes and we are distracted from the importance of eight daily hugs, the quality of our relationship is suffering. It creates an awful feeling inside of me and even with him beside me I can feel alone. I suffer. As a yoga therapist, I am attuned to notice suffering and to be trained to explore its cause. I have come to clearly see that the root cause is disconnection. Disconnection is the experience of not being present to someone and that someone not being present to you. If connection is what we experience when we share thought bubbles and glances, when we go to telephone the other, but the phone is already ringing, so we laugh as we say hello, when we understand each other with almost no words at all, then disconnection is this opposite and, to be honest, quite lonely experience. My partner and I were fortunate to be exposed to Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy for Couples early on in our relationship, and we found that by collaborating in partner postures, being present with one another in partner meditation and sharing our experiences in a structured and meaningful way, reconnection was the outcome, along with inspiration and insight into being better to ourselves and to one another.
As a yoga therapist, I have seen firsthand the powerful impact that PRYT for Couples can have on relationships outside of my own. PRYT for Couples supports the well-being of individuals in relationships by addressing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of a relationship with simple yet profound yoga practices that create profound states of interpersonal connection. By incorporating Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy for Couples into your relationship as quality time or date night, you can deepen your connection, overcome communication barriers, and create a more fulfilling and loving partnership.
The Importance of Connection in Relationships
Connection is the foundation of any healthy relationship and is the glue that holds two people together. Notable author and speaker, Brene Brown defines connection “as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Connection is formed from shared meanings, shared purpose and shared experiences. When two people are truly connected, they have the space to grow and evolve individually and as a couple. When we feel connected to our partner, we feel safe, secure, and supported. We are more likely to communicate openly and honestly, and we are better able to navigate challenges and conflicts within our relationships and in our lives.
However, we cannot take that connection for granted or expect that it will survive negligence. Many obligations and distractions, like work, sports, hobbies and social media can dominate our time and attention. If connection isn’t nurtured and pursued, it is easy to lose touch with our partners. Unfortunately, it’s normal to lose track of connection and forget to prioritize our relationship. People might refer to this experience as “drifting apart” and when we drift far enough away, we disconnected from our partners. When we lose connection with our partner, we may feel lonely, unfulfilled, and disconnected from ourselves.
Understanding the Impact of Isolation and Loneliness on Relationships
Isolation and loneliness are common issues many, even for people in relationships, with families and in communities. There are times in our lives when we may feel disconnected from our community, our family, and even ourselves. When we feel isolated and lonely, we may turn to our partner to fill the void. However, this can put a strain on the relationship, as our partner may feel overwhelmed or resentful, which can lead to disconnection, which will further exacerbate the loneliness thereby creating a destructive cycle.
The destruction that comes from isolation and loneliness is not confined to your relationship. It takes a very real toll on your individual well-being. Research shows that isolation and loneliness can lead to mental and physical health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Loneliness can weaken immunity and lengthen recovery times following illness or injury. Again, these health issues can further impact our relationship, as we may struggle to communicate effectively or engage in physical intimacy.
What is Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) and How Can it Help Heal Relationships?
PRYT is a holistic approach to healing that combines the ancient wisdom of Yoga and Buddhism with the modern knowledge of Psychology and Neuroscience. It focuses on the individual’s unique needs and goals, addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual imbalances and can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and addiction. A session follows the flow of “The Six Phases” a process by which one comes into deep insight from within which they can then apply to their life.
When it comes to relationships, PRYT can help couples deepen their connection, overcome communication barriers, and create a more fulfilling and loving partnership. Through PRYT, couples learn to engage in conscious, physical touch and breathwork, practice mindfulness and presence, and communicate more effectively. Different than Couple’s Therapy that integrates yoga into the session, PRYT for Couples structures the session around present-moment awareness, collaborative partner yoga and structured dialogue, that emphasizes active and empathetic listening and honest sharing from the “I” experience, i.e. I noticed…, I felt…, I experienced… The session supports each partner in being seen and heard as they share an experience and the result is connection.
Connection and Intimacy through Simple Partner Postures
Simple partner postures will spotlight the breathwork and physical touch, which are powerful tools for healing relationships. Breathwork involves observing and regulating your breath, and in partner postures, it’s good to practice noticing your partner’s breath. We may observe the breath naturally falling in and out of synchronization. Physical touch involves using touch to connect with your partner and increase intimacy.
Simple partner yoga offers effective techniques for practicing breathwork and physical touch. When you practice yoga poses together, you practice noticing yourself in relation to your partner, how you are using each other’s bodies for support and connection.
Try this simple exercise that can help you learn to trust and support each other, deepen your physical and emotional connection, while reducing stress and anxiety.
Go for a short and brisk walk with your partner (5-10min)
Return to a private room and eliminate as much noise as possible.
Start 5 minutes on a timer with a non-alarming chime.
Sit or stand back-to-back, where you and your partner are touching but not pressing or leaning on each other.
Take a deeper breath and close your eyes.
Keep breathing actively and deeply – take 10-20 breaths each feeling your own breath.
Turn your attention to your partner’s breath and take 10-20 more breaths noticing and feeling through your back, your partner’s breath. It could be subtle, so really focus on listening, and feeling.
For ten breaths lean back against your partner. Be mindful of your own stability and balance and explore to what extent you can really lean back and let go.
Then switch, let your partner lean on you for 10 breaths.
Return to your starting position. Sit back-to-back and breath until your timer chimes.
Apply Mindfulness and Presence to Deepen Connection
Mindfulness and presence are essential for deepening connection in relationships because they are the activities the come from a deep connection with yourself. Mindfulness involves nonjudgmentally observing your thoughts and feelings as they rise and fall, moment-to-moment. Sustaining your focus on the ever changing phenomenon of now is presence. When you sustain your focus on your partner to notice their moment-to-moment changing self, you are offering them your presence. Having a profound presence involves being fully engaged with your partner and creating a safe and supportive space for them.
Your profound presence will natural inspire conscious touching, which involves touching your partner with intention and presence. You are aware of and observant for the physical sensations, thoughts and emotions that arise. This technique can help couples deepen their physical and emotional connection and increase intimacy.
Practice being more mindful and present with your partner by engaging in this same exercise above, and now really pay attention to watch what you do, think and experience. Your partner does the same. Now you are bringing more mindfulness meditation into your practice. Mindfulness meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. By practicing mindfulness meditation together, you and your partner can learn to be more present, self-aware and self-accepting. In turn, you will become more accepting and supportive with each other.
Overcoming Communication Barriers Through PRYT
Communication is key to any healthy relationship, but it can be difficult to communicate effectively when we are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or triggered. PRYT for Couples can help you overcome communication barriers by giving you opportunities to practice to listen actively, express your needs and feelings, and respond with compassion and empathy.
As you engage the partner yoga activity above, it’s natural to want to share or talk about what it was like or what you experienced or thought of the activity. This natural tendency offers us a great opportunity to strengthen our connection especially when you apply the two techniques below:
Nonviolent communication. Nonviolent communication involves expressing your needs and feelings in a clear and nonjudgmental way. For example, you will say “I was having a hard time holding my balance when you leaned on me. My legs did not feel like they had the strength” instead of “You leaned on me and are too heavy. You almost made me fall over.” This technique can help couples avoid blame and criticism and focus on finding solutions to problems.
Reflective listening. Reflective listening involves actively listening to your partner and reflecting back what you hear. “I heard you say…” By reflecting back what each other has shared, you can avoid misunderstandings and improve your understanding of each other’s needs and feelings.
Creating a PRYT Yoga Practice with Your Partner
A PRYT practice with your partner is a great way to deepen your connection and improve your relationship. Try incorporating these techniques into your daily routine, and make time for regular PRYT for Couples sessions. By committing to your shared yoga practice, you can reconnect and deepen your connection, improve communication, and create a more fulfilling and loving partnership.
Reconnecting with Your Partner is Possible
To be healthy and well, your relationship needs to be healthy and well, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy for Couples is a powerful tool for healing relationships. Through yoga therapy, couples can learn to communicate more effectively, practice mindfulness and presence, and engage in conscious, physical touch and breathwork. If you are struggling in your relationship, consider exploring yoga therapy as a way to reconnect with your partner and create a more fulfilling and loving partnership.
If you are interested in exploring yoga therapy for your relationship join the founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Michael Lee and myself for the weekend workshop “Deepening your Relationship” at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, MA. Two offerings: (2 day) October 20-22, 2023 or (3 day) February 16-19, 2024.
Sarah K Greco, C-IAYT, E-RYT500 serves on faculty at Phoenix Rising School of Yoga Therapy and co-teaches with Michael Lee the workshop “Deepening your Relationship”. She is both a practitioner and a teacher of mind/body medicine techniques and offers a variety of experiences, from private sessions to weekly yoga classes to international retreats through her independent company, Your Kompass LLC. www.yourkompass.com