Today in yoga class we did a simple partner pose, one we’ve done before. Basically, it involves facing in opposite directions, letting palms and forearms touch (right to right or left to left), and then pushing against each other while turning in opposite directions.
This results in a great stretch through shoulder and chest, but like all partner poses … like all yoga poses … it’s more complicated than that.
Because you’re constantly adjusting, figuring out how much your partner can/wants to push, adjusting how much you can/want to push in turn. Figuring out how strong each of you are that day, and so respecting not only your own edge, as one does in all yoga, but also someone else’s.
Needless to say, this can be tricky.
Outside of yoga class, in human relationships of all sorts, it’s even trickier. Knowing your own boundaries, knowing other people’s boundaries, knowing how to make adjustments both when you’ve pushed too far and when you haven’t pushed enough. It seems on the surface that pushing too hard is the real danger, but pushing too little, or not at all, is just as problematic. One means you topple other people over. The other means they topple you.
Two-person poses require trust. Trust that the other person won’t knock you over, but also trust that they’ll let you know when you’re about to knock them over. Trust that when you push, someone will push back, because otherwise you both just wind up on the floor.
Though in yoga, winding up on the floor, or falling out of a pose in any way, isn’t all that big a deal. More than one teacher has reminded me that wobbling and losing your balance is as much a part of a pose as staying in it.
It’s by falling out of poses that I’ve learned (and forgotten, and learned again), that it all goes better if you can fall down laughing.