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Valentine’s Day Partner Yoga for Couples – Have I told you lately?

This weekend John and I assisted Ann Greene at the Partner Yoga for Couples retreat at Kripalu. This is the sixth year we’ve assisted this program. Kripalu is one of the biggest yoga centers in the country and Ann Greene is my favorite yoga teacher.

She is Tinker Bell, the Dalai Lama and Nadia Comaneci rolled into one body. She radiates magic, compassion and strength. As a teacher, she has an uncanny ability to talk you into the seemingly impossible. You lose your inhibitions and stretch your limits – physically, mentally, and spiritually. The three-day Couples program is a place to make these radical affirmations with yourself and your Beloved. Assisting here is an honor.

[John and I will be teaching a Couples Yoga workshop on Valentine's Day at Evolution, 7:30-9. While it's not three days, an hour and a half is enough time to spark a little magic Pixie Dust with your Beloved.]

As assistants at Couples Yoga at Kripalu, we help keep practitioners safe by providing modifications, pillows, bolsters, and encouragement. We also stand in whenever a partner needs a break – whether they have to pee, or the pose is too hard or whatever. Over the years, I’ve found myself in some fairly intimate postures with complete strangers.

This weekend, one woman’s partner did not show up for the morning practice, so I sat in. It was a pretty powerful practice as it involved soul gazing and co-listening. In Soul gazing, you sit knee to knee in a meditative state with your partner. The teacher guides you into ways of seeing the divine in your Beloved. You are instructed to gaze deeply into their eyes and see beyond their mortal coil into something greater, something that we all share.

I held hands and did the soul gazing practice with this woman. It was an incredible experience. As we looked into one another’s eyes, we both vanished. She became everyone. She became each member of my family, each of my close friends, my puppy, my late father, my most cherished teacher, you…everyone. I could see in her the vast ocean of experience, the spark, the chi, the prana, the divine that is at the center of each of us.

The exercise ended with co-listening. In this practice, you sit knee-to-knee and share your thoughts without interruption, without judgment. The listener sits palms up, holding space for the speaker, who sits palms down, hands over the listener’s open hands. It is a pretty great way to let go of any burdens you carry and free your heart. The practice makes you feel supported, valued and nurtured – both as listener and speaker.

I told her what I saw when I looked into her eyes. She said we are all just little droplets of water in the ocean.

During the time she spoke, she shared with me that she has been an ordained pastor for 33 years (no wonder the divine was so easy to see in her). Her church has become toxic to her as a lesbian. She has MS and is in a place of major transition.

The soul gazing exercise was followed by some beginner acro yoga – a practice that includes flying your partner as they balance on the soles of your feet – much like you would a little kid. The base lies on her back on the mat, feet up. The flyer balances her pelvis on the feet of the base. Together, holding hands they lift off. It is a practice of trust and communication and strength. It has wonderful empowering effects on the confidence.

Though the MS caused her muscles to occasionally just give out, my partner flew and her face lit up like a little girl.

The morning practice ended with a slow dance. She and I embraced and danced to “Have I told you lately,” Van Morrison. She cried on my shoulder as we swayed back and forth…

~ C. Jane Taylor

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