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Kripalu Guest Stories: Mike W.

Mike W.

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I’d taken a few yoga classes, and I knew how much yoga could benefit me—I work designing bridges and highways for the Department of Transportation, so I sit at a desk all day, sometimes feeling like a ball of knotted muscles. But it was often hard to find the time. My wife, however, had become very active and continued to improve and enjoy yoga on her own. It was her idea to attend a weekend partner yoga retreat at Kripalu. Partner yoga is a series of interdependent postures that require both partners. It’s meant to foster balance and trust. I was a little nervous, but I knew that my wife was my backup. Because of that, I knew that I could really only fall so far—and literally, there was a pose where she had to lift me using leverage and balance. And she did.

The yoga itself was challenging but not overwhelming. But the real benefit of the class came from the perspective it brought to our marriage. She and I have very different schedules, so we really have to work at coordinating “couple time.” Here’s the thing: Whether you’re around your partner all the time or not, after many years of marriage, you listen to her and you see her, but you rarely get to do those things in a totally different context. Once life and routines get in the way, the opportunities to connect with your partner in a deep and meaningful way don’t come around so often.

At one point, there was a free-form expressive movement session. Your eyes are closed as you’re moving, and you’re being encouraged and guided by your partner. It wasn’t so much yoga as dancing and expressing—fairly new stuff for a guy like me. Watching my wife at her most unguarded and trusting was remarkable and revealing, and marked one of the most moving parts of the weekend for me: seeing my wife of 25 years in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. I felt encouraged and uplifted in my bond with her.

I learned a lot about myself, too. I was surprised by how easily I was able to drop my guard and, quite frankly, be goofy. There you are in a group of people you don’t know—there were about 15 couples in our workshop—and you’re being called on to express yourself in a way that’s not very managed or very familiar. I’m not particularly versed in “moving around like an elephant,” or any of the other freestyle moves we were asked to do, for example. But Kripalu fosters this very safe and trusting environment. Most of the men in our group were not experienced at all, and I didn’t get the sense that any of us were intimidated. And in the end, it’s so worth it: I walked away from that weekend with a new sense of my wife and myself, both as individuals and as a team.

—Mike W., Albany, New York