The word decide means “to cut off, to make a choice from a number of alternatives, or to come to a resolution in the mind as a result of consideration.”
I’ll be honest. For all of my adult life, I’ve explored my sexuality in ways that have not always been the smartest. Ultimately, I ended up making this decision.
So, let’s talk about sex, relationships, yoga…and what I’ve decided!
To begin, let’s consider Yoga Sutra 1.2: Yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah
The interpretation of this that I was taught is “ Yoga is to direct consciousness via the mind in your chosen direction.”
So what does that mean in terms of sex?
At 40 years old, I have been everything from sexually naive, curious, abused, shamed, widowed, divorced, dated long-distance long-term and short-term, monogamously and non-monogamously, co-parented, dated online, casually hooked up…I could go on, but I won’t. The point isn’t to talk about the individual relationships I’ve experienced.
I’ve had enough exploration at this point to know one thing…
I believe in the power of monogamy.
Maybe not lifetime monogamy, but the longer term the better, as long as it is a mutually empowering relationship.
What does yoga have to do with monogamy?
Being a single mother of two teenage children and weaving together five different jobs, one thing is crystal clear…my personal yoga practice has been my saving grace. This was not the life I imagined, but it is what I am grateful to live!
My yoga practice has allowed me to deal with the emotional roller-coaster my life has been. It has been pivotal in managing my auto-immune condition. It has given me space to non-judgmentally feel everything and let it all be okay.
It has let me process life’s deepest traumas without the continual anguish of existential questions like…Who am I? Why did this or that happen? What do I do now? What’s my purpose?…and instead, participate in whatever is active in my life at that moment.
My yoga practice allows everything to be alchemized, not scrutinized. Loved and accepted, not hidden or ashamed.
I’m grateful I learned to breathe so that my breath simply moves my body in ways that make me feel better.
I am like a cat. Stretching, flexing, purrrrring. I’m not trying to be any particular way. I’m just alive. My breath rhythmically enters and exits, allowing movement and stillness to take me into places that help me feel better.
It’s not a choreographed dance that I must “perfectly” accomplish. I simply feel my inhale and exhale as a whole-body prayer, honoring everything I am, all I’ve come from and all I hope for, in every cell.
I surrender to the Great Mystery that I am a part.
I digest, process and release the doubt and pain, simultaneously receiving the newness and potential of each moment, each new breath.
Then, I do it all again.
Given time, I always feel better.
The usual family life of everyday happenings continues, and most days can bring some degree of dis-ease. So again, I practice my yoga. Nearly every day – actually, naturally, non-obsessively – just giving myself time and space to be.
I have practiced like this for more than eleven years with the support of wise friends who have listened patiently as I’ve learned how to manage my intensity.
I realized a long time ago that no one was or is ever going to be able to help me more than I can help myself. That’s just the truth.
For all of us.
That also means the only way to deal with life’s pain, the full emotional spectrum, all the responsibilities, the stress, the unforeseen and unpredictable, is to feel it all.
In feeling it all, something miraculous happens with each inhale and exhale. The process of transformation – the process of death, life, birth – happens. In that, we humans tend to suffer and need to grieve.
Healthy grieving tends to involve denial, anger, sadness, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion. Moving through this process is healthy, but not very easy sometimes.
It can’t be forced. It can’t be expected. It can’t be demanded. It has to be allowed to come in its own time.
I’m assured through my own experiences, it always comes. Even if it’s just momentarily. I always, eventually, feel better.
At the center of my yoga is the deep acknowledgement that these two opposites of inhale and exhale merging at my heart, my hrid, produce a powerful third energy. The manifestation of this is literally this process of healing and what creates life.
We each have this in us. We are each miracles by our sheer existence!
Each of us is this union of opposites came together and POOF… a new life, my life and your life, developed from that spark!
The practice of yoga acknowledges our consciousness and ability to fully participate in our miraculous being, allowing us to embrace our power and focus our energy on whichever ways we want to direct our sparks.
So, I’ve been honoring my hrid, developing sensitivity to the place where I feel this unification in my body. Every day practicing strength that is receptive. Yet I continued to choose partners who didn’t agree with this perspective!
Even if they were okay with monogamy, the co-dependent, under-developed relationship of mutuality AS strength and receptivity didn’t exist. Perhaps it couldn’t. There wasn’t a ground for communication that supported this. And that’s the dance we are all doing in trying to figure out sex and relationships.
For me, though, too often the focus on the outer union of opposites – sex – was on merging with more than one .
Do you see the incompatibility?
The desire for more than one is the desire for some level of “open relationship.” This looks differently for every couple considering and navigating this desire. To be clear, in my experience polyamory is defined as having more than one that you love. So a “poly” person is focused on much more serious, long-term sexual partners that are actively engaged in a deeper level of relationship than those of the casual sex vibe that I’ve seen in more “open relationship” statuses. The range of relationships style varies, obviously, based on all the individuals involved.
Why do I care?
One definition of yoga is “to merge with your chosen object.”
The object that one chooses to focus on, and therefore merge with, is entirely up to each individual. There is an inherent, unifying truth that each individual is the product of two beings (man and woman) that came together. Therefore, each human is the living embodiment of two opposites in union. (This includes all genders and sexual relationships regardless of how we identify or who we are attracted to.)
The point is, without this union of opposites, my inhale and exhale, I cease to exist.
That’s a pretty big deal to me.
My inhale and exhale ARE opposites because the inhale always comes from above, the exhale always comes from below. They merge at the center, the Hrid or Source Heart, in the anatomical flow and function of our living bodies. In the place where they merge rests a peaceful power, my intuition, the seat of my mind, and much more.
So when I do my yoga, I experience this mutual empowerment of opposites that coalesces, fuels, regenerates and vibrates in relationship to all.
Because my daily practice honors this power of two (as my inhale/exhale, above/below, left/right, etc.), yet my sexual partners were focused on merging with more, there was a fundamental incongruity with what I was choosing to focus on in my personal life and what I was trying to cultivate in my primary relationship with another.
Every time this has happened, I have experienced extreme suffering.
Ultimately, I could not deny that the experiences of my truth within and with-out were inharmonious.
AND, I emphasize this:
THIS IS ONLY MY TRUTH AT THIS TIME!
I am not here to proselyte or recruit followers. I trust that there are many other types of beings that exist in different forms, functions and capabilities, all evolving and changing. I honor you all and sincerely say more power to you!
All I am describing here is my own experience of life, sex and relationship as the result of my experimentation in living life thus far. That’s all.
I know I have my own trauma. It certainly has informed my perspective. I am sure I can learn from what others choose to focus on and create in their lives. I have simply learned to honor what my capacity is right now.
I acknowledge that even my own beliefs and desires may change over the course of my life.
I respect all.
This desire for inner and outer harmonious relationship has been my focus for a long time.
The majority of my past relationships have been wonderful, and because I learned from them what feels good to me and what I want, I now have certain clarity.
I bow down to the wisdom within each of you to make your own best choices for your own heart and health. You have my blessings, and I hope you have whatever support you need.
I have read many of the scientific arguments for open relationships and I get them. I also know some people who seem to successfully navigate them. They are totally logical and they can make a lot of sense considering the age we live in.
Awesome! That’s truly wonderful.
I’m not here to debate choices in an attempt to make some “right” or others “wrong.”
I’m convinced that whatever feels best to you IS your yoga. So, I hope you honor yourself as the miraculous, completely perfect creature you are and let your breath and body’s pleasure and pain mechanisms inform your choices.
For me, the question of whether or not to have an open relationship right now is punctuated. It’s done.
I am tired of the fancy sex desires I found in non-monogamous relationships.
For me, they’ve resulted in an endless search for stimuli, as if my relationship was going to get better because of the next new thing (threesomes, elaborate toys, endless fantasies, constant explorations); all things that were extraneous to my being intimate with my own reality and in actual relationship with my chosen partner just as he is.
The mental, emotional and physical stimulation that many are addicted to is found not just in abusing our bodies with food, alcohol, drugs, extreme exercise, overworking or any number of self-soothing mechanisms we indulge. It is most pervasive in our unending longing, our seeking for pleasure in an “other” because we aren’t appreciating the subtleties we already possess.
I think we probably all do it in our own ways.
The constant search for anything more interesting, stimulating, captivating, engaging, passionate, exciting, intoxicating, soothing, ultimately never provides the deep abiding pleasures like those that lie within, especially when one’s personal strength and sensitivity are engaged, repeatedly, by an equal and opposite partner.
The other issue with this attitude of searching is that it tends to scatter our energy and distribute our attention. These precious resources are finite. We can only do so much.
What happens when we go deeply in one direction, and give one thing our full attention?
In my experience, it is profound.
Instead of feeling like we are always on the lookout, unsure, unclear, messy, empty, reckless, unsatisfied, like something is missing or we are wasting our time, we find our purpose. Without struggling, our whole systems relax. Clarity. Ease. Lightness.
We find a rewarding simplicity in knowing our personal pleasure as an extremely intelligent power, one we can trust. So we build this, and our gifts come forward.
Naturally, in their own sweet time, our magic is revealed.
This does not translate into a fancy personal yoga practice that seeks for anything. There are no tricks.
Generally, I do a handful of postures for 10-60 minutes (depending on the day) where I let myself participate in my breath, body and relationships to all… and for eleven years, I’ve done basically the same thing.
There’s nothing fancy about any aspect of my yoga practice.
I’m not craving new sequences or believing that if only I can wrap my leg behind my head, I’ll finally be “good enough.” I’m not searching to achieve anything in my yoga practice. I’m just allowing, surrendering and resting in the medicine of my mat.
Resting. Trusting the miracle of life I am.
Any imposition or desire to attain anything or get anywhere is gone.
My only focus is to listen to my breath. It is my guru. This is how I’ve learned to help myself.
Self-help, on it.
Self-centered, yes please.
In a real yoga practice, we literally create strength in our base/foundation with each exhale. In this strength, the exhale always gives over to the inhale. When we finally inhale, we receive our life force, our prana, and can feel the fullness of possibilities we contain. Then, without fail as long as we continue to breathe, the inhale gives over to the exhale, releasing that which no longer serves us.
Together, this cycle of giving and receiving, in service to each other and the whole is the mutual empowerment of Life.
There is also stillness.
Stillness in the pauses between the inhale and exhale.
The stillness is significant because it enhances the qualities it proceeds.
Beautifully, paradoxically, we can notice total oneness as the total absorption of individuation intersections and overlaps.
Completely, equally, rhythmically, geometrically; so that each one wholly contains the other. It IS the other. You and your object are one.
Within us then is this reciprocal relationship known as one’s breath, heart, body, mind, and all relationships. When we have this for ourselves, we can be with each other in robust relatedness, particularly with our chosen partner. This naturally extends then into our communities as real friendship from one to another. Real caring.
This can be healing of trauma and abusive cycles, something that is mostly inescapable in modern society.
At the core of this then is acknowledging that the power that is within our inner union of opposites IS the same power that exists when we focus on the outer union of opposites.
When sex is appreciated as this merge of two, something is born.
This new life (not necessarily a new child) can be created, seeded and nurtured just like all living things. In this relationship, we can develop ourselves and go deeper in the endless flow of giving and receiving that is our Hearts.
As we continue to focus on our chosen direction/partner and move with continuity towards it, the bond between the two gets stronger and more potentialities for what’s possible together become tangible.
This union of two can only be outwardly supportive, as long as it is independently strong as well. When each individual is encouraged to form other close relationships outside the dyad…they all serve the partnership.
There are many ways to grow connection. They are all important.
For me, sexual connection with one is my practice of “un-fancy” yoga as “un-fancy” sex.
Every moment I can choose what I want to focus on. I want to feel the synchronicity and alignment of what I believe is possible in the outer union of two to match my experience of my inner union of two.
It’s just a decision, a choice, a way to focus my that feels powerful and peaceful and supports all the other parts of my life that are important to me.
I choose to continue to create this peaceful power in myself because I know I show up for my family, friends and community more helpfully when this is my choice. I am no longer ashamed for wanting this or believe that I’m not good enough for needing to “be more” of anything to please anyone else. I have nothing to prove or defend in trying to be “more spiritual.”
I know the the radical experience of my entire life as the power of two polarities in union . Why would I not acknowledge that same power in my choice of how to give my body and direct my energy in my outer/sexual experience?
Monogamy is my yoga.
TRIPURA SUNDARI YANTRA by Melissa Forbes