Yoga & Falling in Love: Do They Mix?

Via on Dec 29, 2011

I think he was afraid of love.

Love felt too threatening to him. Way too mysterious. It required a vulnerability that made him feel like the earth beneath him was shaking, and like his ego was crumbling into tiny bits of rubble.

And that was most undesirable to him. After all, his ego was everything he knew. His ego was who he was. (Or at least, who he thought he was) So he clung to it like a little baby gripping his mother’s skirt tails, and didn’t allow himself to fall very deeply for me. Risk having love cramp his shanti? No way!

Or maybe he fell so deeply in love with me that it scared him? Needing another human being so much scared him. Not being able to imagine the rest of his life without me terrified him. Worst of all, he used to ask himself endless philosophical questions that tried to rationally prove the meaninglessness of falling in love. Would it be worth it? What would I gain? What would I lose? Such mental gymnastics haunted him.

I suppose, in the end, the risks outweighed the profits, because he ended the relationship. But I suspect it wasn’t just me he was running away from, but love. Love itself. And the most infuriating thing is, that he ran away from love in the name of becoming a better yogi.

His yoga practice came before our relationship. That’s what it boiled down to.

Am I the only one who is annoyed by a definition of yoga that excludes being close to another human being? I was under the impression that yoga had moved beyond isolating oneself in a Himalayan cave and migrated it’s way into modern lifestyles that embraced inter-personal relationships. But some yogis are just too “spiritual”, I guess, to fall in love.

Lotus by Irene Weirena

What is love anyway?, they ask. Is there even any real love in this world, or is it all an illusion?

Is it all maya, as they call it? Just your fleeting sense of self, mingling with mine, until they both dissolve? Is love just a bunch of distracting biological programing that’s going to intervene with my peaceful quest for samadhi?

Apparently, it is important to identify our human experience before surrendering ourself to it. Not! Here’s where my ex would get into a technical categorization of love that allegedly drew from yogic texts. (Drove me crazy!) So now he’s judging various kinds of love, mind you, and their significance, or insignificance, (as the case may be), to a true practitioner of yoga.

The terms are plentiful, and in Sanskrit, so I’ll spare you the details, but supposedly, to the serious practitioner of yoga there are primarily two kinds of “love: the kind of “love” that holds you captive in this world, and the kind of “love” that liberates you from it. Simply put, one is “divine” and one isn’t. One is selfless and one is selfish. One is pure and the other is impure. One is spiritual and one is material. And, according to my ex, one is worth participating in and the other one isn’t. Ours was the kind that was obviously not worth participating in to him. I guess the love we shared just didn’t measure high enough on his “divine love” thermometer!. So it became disposable to him.  As did all other close relationships he had with human beings.

My ex and I have very different views of love. I don’t think it’s wise to throw out any kind of love in a world that is so hungry for it! And I fear lots of good loving gets unnecessarily tossed out, like a baby with the bath water, by people who are prematurely trying to be like sage Patanjali, or the Dalai Lama, or act like some enlightened being who loves everyone equally, and in the end actually ends up loving no one at all.

So maybe you’re afraid of becoming codependent? So, you want to make sure your bliss is really within and not in the love you find with another human being? So, you fear you may only perpetuate old patterns, and retrace old samskaras, or negative imprints in your psyche by being in an intimate relationship with another person?

You like your freedom, you like your independence, you want to be your own source of satisfaction, make your own ananda? I hear you. That’s all fine and dandy, but do you really have to toss out your significant other to accomplish all that?

I think people tend to equate relationships with suffering, and they connect a yogic lifestyle with a lack of suffering. So they come up with safe, little formulas for spiritual success that translate into trading-in their intimate bonds with others, for a relationship with “the universe”, with “God”, with “the divine”, or whatever you call that more mystical and magical something-or-other yogis derive their bliss from. Supposedly falling in love with *that* is safer, it won’t let you down, it’s smarter. Hey! If I am loving the whole universe, then I am automatically loving you because you are part of the universe! Sorry buddy, that one’s not going to fly with me. It sounds like a cop-out. It sounds like maybe, just maybe, you’re scared of getting your heart broken.

So what if love breaks you, and rips you, and takes your sensitive, tattered heart and tosses it out the window of a moving vehicle and drags it through the dust, like Napoleon Dynamite did to his plastic action figure on his ride to school?

So what if the pain is excruciating at times? So what if love shakes all your safe foundations and leaves you feeling naked and exposed, and unable to predict what’s going to happen next? Does than mean you’re less of a yogi? Because you are human? Because you have feelings? Because you have a human heart that wants to exchange love with another human heart?

 Maybe yoga wants you to take that experience, of being in love, (with all the crazy and wild roller coaster rides that come with it, and the soft vulnerability, and the interdependent sweetness and scariness) and make it part of of your yoga practice?.

To me, it just doesn’t make sense to toss out love in this world, as a means to rise to a higher love. Just the opposite!

What if all the experiences of love in this world amount to the most valuable tool we can use in finding our own bliss?

What if everything you want in a relationship with the universe is hiding in the loving relationships we have with other human beings?

What if the divine in me wants to love the divine in you? Would you call it yoga?

Maybe it has that potential, if you let it. 

About Katarina Silva

Katarina Silva is an artistic self-expressionist who thrives on the spontaneous thrill of creating photographic images in ten seconds, and inevitably employs witchcraft to do so. Her autobiographical art reflects her emotions and dreams, and is characterized by the mysterious absence of her complete face. She lives unafraid of darkness, wrapped in nature, in an obscure corner of the planet with her magical kitty. You may view her work at The Art of Katarina Silva. Or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

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20 Responses to “Yoga & Falling in Love: Do They Mix?”

  1. linda buzogany says:

    Wow, you have such a talent, Katarina. Always look forward to reading when I see your name. "What if everything you want in a relationship with the universe is hiding in the loving relationships we have with other human beings?" Love this…so true. And the avenue is complete vulnerability. Not easy.
    Thanks Katarina.
    ~Linda

    • Thank you Linda! Yes, complete vulnerability! Not many people let themselves go there. But it seems like such a prerequisite to growing and thriving, I think. Otherwise, our growth is stunted to the degree that we guard ourselves against life and love. And yes, letting go is not easy, but soooo worth it in the end! :-)

  2. Patrick says:

    Divine love is pure, The Divine loves each of us like a mother loves her children. Between a man and woman, such love seems to me impossible, unless perhaps if they follow the same path. The Divine Love is unconditional, the human love is full of conditions. So I understand the yogi in the story.

  3. This is amazing Katarina! I need to read it a few more times & really let it soak in…I often feel that way with your writing. Thanks for sharing it:)

  4. MarySol says:

    Wow, you came out swinging in this one Katarina, Love it! Personally, I couldn't agree with you more. I believe the walls people put up out of fear of being carried away by love, of losing control, of baring themselves to loves total vulnerability end up putting themselves (and those around them) in a prison. Unfortunately, these attitudes seem to be so widespread. Not just in yogis but in society generally. And in my opinion it creates havoc. And exploitation. Because the opposite of love is exploitation. Loving more means caring more, giving more, being more selfless.
    At the same time, it may be that due to the long long road we are all on in this world, very negative impressions from previous lives can create very deep, intrinsic fear, in someones heart, which makes it hard for them to surrender to love..

    • The opposite of love is exploitation? That is very interesting MarySol. Yes, and so much exploitation also goes on in the name of caring for and protecting others. The whole victim/victimizer paradigm seems to be more familiar to people in relationships, than an exchange of real love, unfortunately. I always thought of fear as the opposite of love. One who harbors fear in their heart cannot surrender to love, as you say. But sometimes we just have to take the risk. But you can't do that unless you trust the person you are contemplating taking that risk with. In retrospect, I think my ex never really trusted me. Not entirely. And even though I tried my best to support him through any challenges he was struggling with, it obviously wasn't enough. Yes, this is definitely a long and windy rod we are on! Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with me, and for continuing to support my writing. It is very encouraging!

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  6. John Joseph says:

    A lot of people come to yoga (including myself) because they are psychically and emotionally wounded. Having spent many years with gurus and living in Ashrams as a young adult, I experienced the unconditional love that I lacked as a child. Yoga certainly is a path to one's inner bliss and a means to become aware of the eternal divine within that never changes. But to isolate oneself from others and push away intimacy, is certainly fear based. I believe we were put on earth to love others and through that love between human beings we see the reflection of our true selves. A path without loving another to me is a path without a heart. BTW Katarina, if I may make an editorial suggestion, you want to limit the use of exclamation marks in your writing….the words themselves should impact on the reader, as opposed to the punctuation. Otherwise, there's a lovely flow to your words and your emotions are very palpable in your writing. All the best….

    • Your sharing was very touching John. Thank you. Yes, many do come to yoga with wounded hearts, and find their hearts soothed by the healing balm of their gurus, their sadhana, the unconditional love offered there, in a yoga sangha. I also found that in an ashrama when i was a teenager. In fact, that is where I met my partner. Unfortunately, he does not share our view about loving others as a means to know our true, spiritual selves. Paths with hearts take courage. It can feel kind of scary to many. Thank you for echoing my views, and especially for your editorial suggestion! I've been receiving a few of those lately and as I am just learning how to write, every little bit helps. THANK YOU! And Happy New year! :-)

  7. somagnosis says:

    What he did, as so many do, is called a Spiritual By-pass.

  8. [...] Yoga & Falling in Love: Do They Mix? [...]

  9. This is very emotional post. Many people start yoga and meditation with broken hearts and find solace in the "sadhana". Yoga is the best remedy for the broken hearts. For more information about yoga, its benefits, how to do it, and how to practice it in daily life you may visit:
    http://www.varanasiestate.com/category/health-bod

  10. It is so helpful to me and inspiring to read comments such as yours, John. Thank you for sharing. Yes, the article was indeed cathartic for me to write, and it's healing to receive this feedback, in which I am reaching others who may have a similar challenge. You are blessed to have a girlfriend who supports your practice, and is patient with your occasional fear of commitment. If my story can help ease your struggles, then it has done it's job! Thank you for your support and keep at it: both your relationship and your yoga, as frustrating as they both can get at times. Wishing you the best for 2012! :-)

  11. Thank you for sharing, MarySol. I hear what you say about people finding it easier to "save the world" than enter into an intimate relationship of mutual reciprocation. I read once that love has various elements to it. One of them is a mutual flow of giving and receiving. If the love is only flowing one way, how intimate is it, really? And how much does one have to offer the world, when they have yet to surrender to love themselves? I believe you need to own something first before you can give it away. Otherwise we may just be handing out pretty gift parcels with nothing inside. How can one who is in a position of being rescued himself, "save the world"? Hollow offerings eventually leave both the recipients and the giver hungry. I believe that to love others fully, we need to surrender ourselves to being loved fully. To me the two go hand in hand. Like two sides of the same coin.

  12. MarySol says:

    So true. "To love others fully, we need to surrender ourselves to being loved fully". Beautifully put. What could be nicer? Let love lead. Thank you Katarina :-)

  13. MarySol says:

    Hi Katarina, This morning I was visualizing something you mentioned above " I read once that love has various elements to it. One of them is a mutual flow of giving and receiving." , and " I believe you need to own something first before you can give it away". It seems love flows, through everyone, like streams and rivers, which always find receptive courses to flow through. Where love is received it flows through us and we have love to give. If we are unwilling to receive love it flows by us. Yes, as you say, "the two go hand in hand, like two sides of the same coin". Thank you for sharing, Learning to love more fully is priceless :-)

  14. Yes, I think people do have a mistrust in humanity, in general~ not just to "love divinely", but to do lots of things. I think sometimes the "divine in us" can inspire us to "love divinely", in spite of ourselves! Ha ha ha ha! I am happy this gave you a new outlook. I always try to think that humans are capable of WAY more than we think! I am happy to hear you are going to give love a chance. Thank you for sharing, and I wish you the best! :-)

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