Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting in the Mudra - relationship yoga for core stability.

When stress hits your relationship do you snap or do you bend over backwards? Learning to be flexible and yet stay strong is an important skill for healthy relationships.

My yoga teacher talks about the minimum and the maximum edge. The minimum edge starts when your body registers a change, you feel a bit of a stretch but it's not too challenging. Then, with gentle movements and awareness of the breath, you go as close to your maximum edge as you can. There's a bit discomfort, muscles may be juddering, and focusing on the breath helps to hold the pose and maintain any dignity.  At the end, though, your body has stretched and the feelings of ease, space, inner strength and flexibility are glorious.

To achieve the same outcome in relationships it is necessary to do some emotional yoga.  The first stage is to understand the transition process which has three states: Comfort, Stretch and Panic

Comfort is familiar; nothing challenging but not much growth or learning either.  

Stretch involves a move into the unfamiliar; it feels both scary and exciting going into the unknown - this is the realm of the minimum and maximum edge.

Panic means you're far from your comfort zone, easily overwhelmed and destabilized. Some people love the Panic Zone, believing it makes them feel alive, but it is usually a cover-up for unresolved feelings that surface in the Comfort zone.  If you come out of the Comfort zone with all guns blazing - finding huge distractions that keep you busy or mistaking high stress for living life to the full -  you are more likely to hit burn out and will have missed the chance to Stretch and build a strong, sustainable core.

Get things moving.
When you your relationship is in Stretch it feels great and you find that even challenging situations can be handled with ease. You don't have to work so hard to feel the connection, communication is easier, inspiration and creativity flow.  Issues still come and go, but the relationship can handle anything because there is the flexibility, core strength, self-awareness -  and a willing attitude.

If you're stagnating and feel that your relationship is floundering or you are just plain bored - you're stuck in Comfort and it's time to Stretch.  When relationships get stuck here I often suggest telling your partner that you're bored.  It is, however, vital that you explain you are saying this not because you want to start a fight or hurt their feelings, but because you want things to be better and are willing to work on it.  If you want things to start moving without either party getting hurt, it is also important to learn effective communication skills - being able to talk and listen with openness and a willingness to learn about yourself and each other.

Flexible and Strong
When you both feel stimulated, inspired, energized and connected - congratulations, you are in Stretch - you could work that feeling to the maximum edge! Use the good feelings you have here to work on your relationship.  If there are any difficult conversations to be had, or issues to be resolved - now is the time!  You will have to address them at some point and its better to do it using the positive vibes of love and understanding that abound in this state.  

Reduce the overload
When the relationship has gone beyond it's maximum edge,  stress increases the distance and there is danger of collapse,.  There may be money problems, constant arguments, affairs, addictive behaviour - and the demands on time leave no space for connection.   

It only needs one partner to be aware of being in the Panic zone to help the relationship regain stability.   Rather like the emergency procedure on an plane, you are advised to put your own oxygen mask on first.  Work on reducing your stress and by bringing yourself back inside the maximum edge first.  Slow down, find your own emotional equilibrium, get some understanding of what is really going on - then start communicating!  Trying to sort things out when both of you are in the Panic Zone means you are unlikely to sort things out successfully in the long term and the fight will just go round and round.

Depending on what is going on in your life, our training events can move you gently out of the Comfort Zone or help you pull back from Panic - allowing you to work at your best in your best state.

What needs to happen for you to be in Stretch?  Here's what people are saying about our 'relationship yoga'.

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