Two years ago, in a van full of women driving back from Enchanted Tadasana — a yoga retreat hosted by the owners of Karma Yoga Center — the conversation veered to, what else? Love.
Several of us were talking about love current or love lost or love yearned. Lisa was at the wheel, headed down I-25 in northern Colorado, when she stated that she’d meditated for 40 days to bring love into her life.
Three months later, Aaron, now fiance, came into her life.
She said, “I wrote down everything I wanted in a partner, and then, no matter what I was doing, I made time every day to chant Aham Prema [ah-hum pray-mah]” which means I am divine love.
At the time, I was single and had been for some time. Like Lisa, I was content being by myself but I wanted to experience me in a relationship. Life was routine and easy and I was growing to love my Secret Single Girl Behaviors a little too much (“Sex and the City” watchers will know what I mean). I wanted a love story.
When Lisa shared hers, none of us thought she was a miracle worker, but some of us did think she possessed a power we did not. The only “power” that makes her different? She completely trusts that the universe will provide for her intentions.
“You put out intentions and you have to wait for them to be fulfilled,” she told me last year. “If [yoga] is really done to the heart of what it’s intended to be, it can transform everything.”
Shortly after that conversation I met a guy named Evan. I didn’t meditate or write down everything I wanted, but I did fill out an online dating profile.
One year later, it remains one of the best spontaneous decisions I ever made.
Create your vision
“Dream your vision to create it.”
Fast forward to a spa treatment I had in Ojai, Calif., yesterday. As she put cool eye pillows on each eyelid, my aesthetician spoke those words. We had been talking about natural health, travel and both our struggles with acne (mine, still ongoing) — nothing to prepare me for this sudden yogic interlude.
No matter that I was wrapped in foil or that each inhale and exhale caused a snap, crackle, pop. This was savasana in body burrito form.
Maybe it was because I was swaddled like a baby, maybe it was because this week marks a year my love story began, but Aham Prema came to mind. Instead of thinking about a specific vision that I wanted to come true, I thought, This time next year I’ll still be supremely happy. I’ll still remember Aham Prema.
As Mike Dooley points out in Infinite Possibilities: Leave the hows of the universe up to the universe. Instead, focus on the dreams and the hows will take care of themselves.
No, I didn’t make this up
I tell you the story about Lisa because I know what she did is true. Thirty days before he met me, Evan wrote down everything he wanted in a relationship and intended for it each day. We met and guess what? I checked off every item on his list.
We’ve got it wrong when it comes to love. We feel like there should be intense attraction and a quick smoldering spark. Too often, though, our relationships run out of fuel and fizzle, just like the visions we create for our lives.
The relationship we should crave is a slow burn. One that glows brighter with time; that continually is remade if new logs are rolled on the cinders. That doesn’t fix or solve or fill a need. The one that feels each day like you’ve rediscovered the best parts of you.
Yoga taught — heck, teaches — us all of that.
It’s not how you meet someone that matters. It’s what you do after that counts. Apply the same practice to when you get on your mat and all your relationships will change, including the vision you have for yourself.
When yoga comes from the heart, it can change everything.
Try this: Garland Pose, Malasana
What does a yogic squat have to do with love? I used to have a love-hate relationship with this pose. Before my ankles were flexible enough for my heels to touch the ground, I’d give up far too soon before the pose could be of any benefit. Sound like a relationship you might be in now? Some of the most rewarding experiences take time. And yes, this includes squats which increase flexibility in the groins, your ankles and help to create space in the hips.
- Standing, walk your feet about hip distance or wider and exhale, lowering into a squat. If your heels do not touch the ground, place them on the edge of a rolled up blanket. Experiment with turning your toes outward or keeping the feet more parallel, depending on what is comfortable for the ankles.
- Place your palms at your heart in Anjali Mudra. Press your upper arms into your inner thighs to lengthen your spine and open the hips.
- Breathe deep into the resistance and stay for 10 deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, place your palms flat on the ground and inhale the legs straight. Hang in Standing Forward Fold, relaxing the neck and the backs of the legs.