Yoga Articles by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

Exploring Relationships - Interpersonal Yoga (Page 6)


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Interpersonal Tools
Here are some structures or tools to experiment with that can open up different aspects of your relationships and loosen or unravel some of the knots. One dimension of yoga is creating the tools you need to work with your own particular problem areas. You may want to elaborate and modify these to fit your circumstances.

  • First, identify the knots by being alert for emotionally sensitive areas and repetitiveness of any kind - no matter how reasonable or justifiable each side seems.
  • Try to unravel each knot by identifying its underlying value systems, noting any patterns in reactions, and discovering what each of you are getting out of keeping the knot.
  • Be willing to stay with an impasse, watching its dynamics and following the fears, without trying to change it. Just learn about it by living with it.
  • Check to see if you're honestly more interested in blaming, punishing, or winning than in communicating. (Feelings of relish are especially suspect.)
  • See if you can forget yourself temporarily and put yourself in the other's place, to find the internal consistency in their viewpoint and describe it objectively.
  • Before responding, interpret in your own words what the other has just said to their satisfaction. This can help you see what you may be missing.
  • Arranging "feedback sessions" periodically allows feedback to be given outside the context of a heated discussion. And it also keeps it from inundating your life.
  • Writing in a journal when confused or upset can reveal and intensify underlying emotions, and show their connection to thoughts and values.
  • In watching your responses, it's useful to separate how the content of the message affects you from how you react to the way it's presented.
  • Tape recording your talks or arguments allows you to see your own patterns and view the knot from a removed place. It also helps you recognize complaining, sarcasm, put downs, and blame. Listening to yourself is difficult, but crucial, since this rarely occurs in a heated discussion.


Life is full of surprises once you begin to live with the actual problem at the core of a knot, instead of the reactions and values that coat it. Often you get back in touch with love, which has its own unpredictable problem-solving magic. There are always potential knots that need periodic working out. Whether you meet them creatively, or whether you close down in the face of them, is what matters. But there is also a risk in serious exploration: you may discover that you have drifted apart as your interests have changed, or that you're no longer right for each other. Yet, there's more danger in not confronting your problems, for this undermines your own growth and brings stagnation into your life.

Approaching relationships as yoga creates levels of communication and openness that are unique. Part of the process of yoga involves keeping it new and vital by being very alert for the onset of habits, set routines and boredom, because when the mechanical creeps in, it can dull anything. Communication is the key that can allow love to ripen through time. A relationship that promotes newness and creativity while developing the closeness and depth that only time can bring, is hard to replace. The context of such a relationship offers the opportunity to learn about yourself, the people you are involved with, and the world, in a way that can only come through real communication.

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