Valentine’s Day is big business for Victoria’s Secret, chocolatiers and scores of restaurants. The Colombia Flower Growers Association sells far more roses on this day, than any other of the year. The USDA reports that Colombia has 20,000 acres dedicated for flowers, and roses accounted for $365 million in sales. The Bogota airport attributes its biggest export item to be flowers, with 200,000 tons in annual cargo. Approximately 100,000 people are employed by the flower industry in Colombia, and their exports account for more than half of the flowers we Americans buy at Valentines Day, and year round.
While yogis may appreciate the beauty of flowers, the concept of love, is far broader than an embrace, a kiss, a toast of champagne or opening a box of candy.
In many parts of Latin America, Valentine’s Day is known as El Dia del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship). I take the meaning of love further, to include love of all humanity and living beings. Love of our planet. Love of life. Love of self.
What’s love got to do with it? Love of self is a biggie. Without it, you cannot be physically or emotionally healthy.
Ram Dass, the former Harvard professor and author of best seller, “Be Here Now,” also published “Be Love Now.” His concept of love, is accepted by many in the yoga world.
“When you see the Beloved all around you, everyone is family and everywhere is love. When I allow myself to really see the beauty of another being, to see the inherent beauty of soul manifesting itself, I feel the quality of love in that beings presence. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. We could be talking about our cats because we happen to be picking out cat food in the supermarket, or we simply could be passing each other on the sidewalk. When we are being love, we extend outward an environment that allows people to act in different, more loving and peaceful ways than they are used in behaving,” explains Ram Dass.
Yoga therapist Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., acknowledges that compassion must begin with each of us. “We are all wounded,” she says. “The best way to heal others is to heal ourselves.”
Through the many branches of yoga, one can address his or her wounds. Some forms of yoga, such as Yoga Nidra, can have even more therapeutic benefits than traditional hatha yoga. Yin Yoga is also often used to help people come to terms with their emotions, and there may be nothing more powerful than an empty mind, thus the power of meditation.
Dare we suggest that one of the reasons for today’s high rate of divorce and marriage strife is the cause of unhappiness, or lack of loving ourselves. We may all need a bit of yoga of love.
Julie Carmen is a practicing marriage and family therapist. She is also a certified yoga therapist, and the associate director of mental health at Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Therapy Rx program. She states that she can’t help but also see through her lens as a yoga therapist.
Each person is expected to do their inner soul work and show up for a love relationship with the best parts of themselves, explains Carmen.
“When people come in for couple’s therapy, I often gravitate towards Narrative Post Modern Therapy because it does not pathologize Cupid’s victims. Each person gets a chance to present their problem saturated story, full of betrayal, misattunement and resentment.”
“Once we deconstruct the problems, we stumble upon the kleshas, which, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, are the five primal causes of suffering, Avidya: Ignorance, Asmita: Ego, Raga: Attachment, Dvesha: Aversion, and Abhinivesha: Clinging to life. No one comes in to couple’s therapy looking for a philosophy lecture so I keep those interpretations as an inner model to guide me.”
“Couples who want to get well are eager to rewrite their preferred narratives. They love to look for exceptions to their long held, problem saturated stories. It offers relief to highlight times when they rowed well together. We practice thickening those threads. We identify times when they function as a balanced dyad. Narrative solutions for couples allow lovers to dwell on traits they value but it demands a lot of each individual.”
Michael Lee, founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, the primary school that integrates yoga for the emotions and psychological wellbeing in America, has designed his own yoga therapy program for couples.
He has defined a yoga for partners curricula to enhance relationships. Not unlike marriage counseling, Lee meets with the partners individually, and together. He facilitates discussion on differences, acceptance, awareness and choice to identify areas for improvement.
After the initial exploration and intention setting, he leads the twosomes in partner postures that require more than a physical presence. The physical yoga component becomes a spring board for dialogue and integration.
“Using age-old yogic approaches to embodied self-presence and awareness, we are able to know ourselves more fully. Out of this knowing, we are more easily moved to embrace the opportunity for change, growth and enhanced well being in body, feelings, thought, and spirit,” says Lee.
Yoga is far more therapeutic than stretching of muscles. For details on Julie Carmen’s yoga therapy, visit www.yogatalks.com.
For more information on Ram Dass’ philosophy, check out The Love Serve Remember Foundation which is dedicated to preserving and continuing the teachings of Ram Dass and his guru, Neem Karoli Baba.
Read more about Yoga Nidra and Yin Yoga at https://thenamastecounsel.com/?p=791 and www.thenamastecounsel.com/articles