AcroYoga

It is a few minutes past 5 a.m., the beginning of my daily yoga practice. My right leg is lunging forward, the right foot pointing to the front. My left leg is placed straight and solid behind me. I breathe in and raise my arms, stretching them slowly out toward both sides. I look over my right hand, all of its fingers stretching themselves in one line away from my right shoulder. This is Virabhadrasana, or the Warrior II yoga pose. I feel good.

Bounding into the Yoga Pose

A relationship is like a yoga posture. Getting into a relationship, everything is rosy bliss. The stars glitter in one another’s eyes. You feel like the glorious hero of an action movie who has just saved the world from a great enemy. Sunlight is like the beloved’s warm embrace and rain is liquid happiness. There is a story to Virabhadra’s yoga pose. As told in the Mahabharata, the great Hindu spiritual epic, Lord Shiva’s beloved, Shakti, happened to be the daughter of his enemy, Daksha. Shakti’s father openly refused the marriage. Shakti was so grieved of her father’s disapproval that she took her own life. The warrior Virabhadra was born out of a lock of Shiva’s hair he had dashed to the ground while avenging his wife’s death.

Use Yoga to Soften Communication in a Relationship

In that flash of energy, Lord Shiva must have been practicing yoga. A yoga breath technique couples can use to help maintain a happy relationship is called the “Hmmm!” breath. This breath technique can instantly calm the mind and a relationship when the tension mounts. To practice “Hmmm!” breath: begin by taking refuge in a quiet corner. Simply cover the nose and mouth with a handkerchief and, say “Hmmm!” loudly with the mouth closed. Repeat as necessary.

Yoga Allows Love to Happen

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In yoga as in love, the trick is allowing the process to happen. This is the “yes” mind. “Yes” is the balance needed to create a haven of communication, a space to rest in the relationship. “Yes” to each other means, “yes” to giving each other space, and “yes” to just being together in silence. It means saying “yes” to each other’s mistakes, unforeseen expectations and weaknesses. This spiritual wisdom can bring the strength not to fall out of the yoga pose.

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Staying Centered in the Yoga Pose

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, says, “Love is not an emotion. It is your very nature.” Through practicing yoga, pranayamas (yogic breathing exercises) and Sudarshan Kriya , a stress-relieving breathing technique of The Art of Living, this truth has become more obvious to me. With each day of yoga practice, I realize a smile and that warm fuzzy bliss I feel after a restful meditation is the real me. This sense of calm, of quiet observance, is the same as a successfully balanced yoga pose.

A Little Wobbling is Natural

Sometimes in the Warrior II yoga pose, I feel a pinch in my back, the result of long hours spent working on a computer. Waves of uneasiness radiate from the crunched muscle tissues in my back, and I close my eyes. Breathe, I tell myself, allowing myself to practice yoga, to be a witness to this uncomfortable feeling. The muscles are caught unsure of what to do, confused by this new situation. Suddenly, things stop feeling natural, something is not quite right. I begin to lose balance. Taking deep breaths, I agree to be a witness to the discomfort, and with some wobbling and wiggling in the pose, I come back to balance.

Witnessing the process of a relationship, of a yoga pose, needs faith and strength. Sometimes I must make extra space between my shoulders. That means slightly adjusting one here and maybe lowering the other there. Watching my breath. There is discomfort, but these are my shoulders, and they are not going anywhere.

Yoga & Doubt

Whether it is a yoga pose, or a relationship, doubts may come up when something unexpected or disappointing happens. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says even doubt can be positive. “You know, if someone tells you that they love you, you say, ‘Really?’ Isn’t it so?,” says Sri Sri. “But you take it for granted when someone expresses their hatred towards you. If someone asks you, ‘Are you happy?’ you say, ‘Well, I am not sure.’ We doubt in love. You never doubt your depression, but you always doubt your happiness. So a doubt is always about something that is positive.”

The Yoga of Love

In a relationship, Sri Sri says, “There are two secrets: one for men, one for women. Women should always pump the ego of a man. When he is tired, when he finds blame everywhere, the only place he turns to is his wife to find solace. She should support him 100 percent and not put him down.” For men, Sri Sri advocates, “Men should never step on the emotions of a woman. Never say bad things about her family, her childhood, her past, or her hobbies. If she wants to go for a meditation, anything religious, never say no, because these are very dear to her. You just be stable, smile.”

A Space of Love

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A smile shows on the surface of the “yes” mind. A couple can take the time to nourish their smiles both together and individually. Practicing yoga together, and being engaged in volunteer service are two ways to stay spiritually connected. And that generosity in service, giving of oneself in love will flow back into the relationship. It is a law of the universe.

Allowing for time off to be alone individually is as important as the relationship. “For love to blossom, there needs to be longing…and longing needs a little space,” says Sri Sri. “Though it is a little painful, longing is inevitable. If you don’t allow longing, then love does not grow. So, give them some space…and take some space yourself.”

Like the balance of the five elements in nature, in the Warrior II yoga asana, I balance between the five points of my body: my head, two arms and two legs. In this yoga pose, sometimes I find myself paying more attention to adjusting my hands. At other times, I want to deepen the connection of my feet to the ground. Nourishing a support group of friends and family nourishes a relationship. Spending quality time with friends, spending time alone with nature, or just being in quiet solitude can deepen the relationship with one’s Self.

Honoring Time

As time passes in a relationship, a couple witnesses that expectations and attitudes change. The relationship can become better with more yoga and meditation practice. We can learn how to communicate better in the relationship, to be more patient and forgiving. Again and again, the cycle rotates from rosy and glorious bliss to momentary shakiness. There may be confusion when little earthquakes shake. Commitment is what holds the yoga pose together, when you decide not to fall. Spirituality is what gives the strength to see it through.

And even Lord Shiva was a witness to this cycle. His beloved Shakti eventually did return to him, reincarnated as Parvati in her next life, though the same soul.

Written by Marilyn Galan for Art of Living.

Want to attend a yoga retreat on your own and build new relationships? Check out our Ignite Your Light Retreat with Laura Beth Power and Teresa Butler.

Body image anxiety — whether it’s a fixation on a facial flaw, an obsession with calorie-counting and exercise, or general negative feelings about your appearance — can be all-consuming, and they can take a serious toll on your well-being and self-esteem. When it comes to dealing with body insecurities and negative self-talk, sometimes the best thing can be to get out of your own head. Yoga, which is now being offered in some schools as a stress-relieving practice, can also be an effective way for young women to develop a positive self-image.

“Yoga allows us to start to slow down the self-critic, and start to observe that this voices in our heads isn’t necessarily the reality,” Vyda Bielkus, co-founder of Health Yoga Life studio in Boston, tells the Huffington Post. “To slow down and get into the body and say ‘OK, when these thoughts are coming up, there’s something actually behind the thoughts that we’re observing’ — that connects us more to our true self versus the dialogue that may be running us.”

Beginning a yoga program during your high school years can help you to start listening to the wisdom of your own inner voice, and to realize that your voice matters, Bielkus says. Whether it’s peer pressure from your girlfriends or pressure you put on yourself, yoga can help you to find comfort and resilience by looking within and finding your own path.

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Here are five ways that a regular yoga practice can help heal body image issues and promote positive self-esteem.

  1. Let go of your need to be perfect.

“Practices yoga helps people of all ages to create that space from all the media images that we’re constantly bombarded with, and the negative self-talk that can come up from that,” says Bielkus.

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So much of eating and body issues have to do with the need to control, whereas yoga is about cultivating the ability to let go, Bielkus adds. Silencing the mind and focusing on the breath and the body can help you put a stop to the dangerous habit of perfectionism and to simply appreciate all the good things your body does for you.

“Women have so many expectations of themselves,” Bielkus says. “We’re constantly bombarded with unreal expectations that everything should be perfect — I should look perfect and I should be accomplishing it all with ease. I think yoga allows us to take a break from all of the chaos… and start to say, ‘I have a need to be good to myself and slow down, and as I’m able to show up for myself, I’m more able to show up for others.’”

  1. Get active without an emphasis on competition or losing weight.

Some new practitioners may initially be attracted to yoga as a way to achieve the type of body they want, but they’ll quickly realize that there’s a lot more to the practice than getting into shape — and in fact, this isn’t the main objective at all. For those who are recovering from an eating disorder or struggling with body image issues, yoga can be a great way to stay active without focusing on competition or calorie-burning.

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“I often say in my own classes, ‘Why we start yoga is not why we stay,’” says Bielkus. “Yoga… helps us connect to an inner spark that we can honor. That’s really what keeps people coming back to their mats — more inner awareness, more stillness, more peace in their life. Then that supports healthier choices off the mat.”

  1. Find a healthy, body-positive community.

Having body-negative friends can take an even greater toll on your body image and self-esteem than the media, according to a 2012 study that linked peer competition to poor self-image. Attending local yoga classes are a great way to have fun with like-minded friends and to build new friendships that don’t involve competing over physical appearance.

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“Yoga allows teens to plug into a community of people who might be a healthier alternative to what’s available to them,” says Bielkus. “It’s also less competitive than an athletic sport, because at yoga we de-emphasize competition and we’re talking about self-acceptance.”

  1. Recognize (and change) negative beliefs and behavior.

If you’ve been struggling with body image, it’s possible that you’ve internalized negative body beliefs that you’re not even aware of, like an assumption that your weight keeps you from being attractive to the opposite sex, or an idea that you should never to eat more than your friends do. But yoga allows us to pause and silence the mind for long enough to observe our beliefs and habits — and to change the ones that are no longer helping us.

“It allows us to notice what beliefs drive our behavior,” says Bielkus. “We make these beliefs at a very young age — we sort of decide on our worthiness, if we’re lovable, how we’re perceived by others — usually in childhood, and then those beliefs drive us to action. Often as we go into adulthood, we’re still carrying those beliefs, and they really don’t serve us anymore.”

  1. Relieve stress than can lead to poor body image and eating disorders.

Stress and body images issues are often a vicious cycle: When we’re stressed out, we may become more self-critical about our weight and eating habits, and in turn, a preoccupation with food, exercise and physical appearance brings more stress into our lives. According to a recent University of Michigan survey, 20 percent of college women say that thoughts and fears about eating and weight dominate their lives.

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Not only can yoga help promote self-acceptance, but it’s also been proven to relieve stressCalm-inducing resting poses can be particularly helpful for easing a mind that’s busy with negative thoughts, and Bielkus recommends gentle heart-opening backbend poses (like camel, bridge or wheel) for cultivating a positive relationship between the mind and body.

Article: Huffington Post

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Looking for the perfect blend of eco-adventure, yoga, and bliss for you and your significant other?    

Come join us January 22-28, 2017 or April 2-8, 2017 with Anthony Alcalde.

This all-inclusive retreat couples experience:

  • 6 nights at our resort partners’ beautiful locations minutes from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
  • All Inclusive, delicious, body-nourishing meals
  • Daily AcroYoga and related yoga practice with Anthony
  • Couples Massage
  • Eco-Adventures: Beach Excursion, Sailing, and more..

According to AcroYoga International, “AcroYoga elevates the connection between you and others through movement, connection, and play. Acro in Greek means high, or elevated. Yoga in Sanskrit commonly translates to notions of union, or joining. The experience of taking flight with AcroYoga instantly dissolves fears and invites practitioners to tap into new and infinite possibilities of communication, trust, and union.”

Through a blend of solar acrobatic practices, lunar therapeutic practices, and yogic practices, couples can cultivate trust, listening, and awareness – strengthening relationships and bringing partners closer together physically and spiritually.

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Now, couples can learn and practice AcroYoga and harmonize their relationships in paradise – Zen Yoga Nicaragua is excited to announce a couples only AcroYoga retreat with Anthony Alcalde. Anthony’s unique practice blends the spiritual wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai massage, and the dynamic power of Acrobatics. In the vein of giving and receiving, the relationship between partners will grow and bloom as much as it is being watered and nourished. Explore AcroYoga and the wisdom of yoga, the strength of acrobatics, and the loving kindness of Thai massage.

Learn more and sign up for our couples only AcroYoga retreat today!