Looking to cultivate more connection with yourself—and with others? Want to experience the oneness versus otherness so many yoga teachers talk about? This sequence will show you how.
Remember when you got a boo-boo as a kid and your parent kissed the pain away? Ever notice how a hug seems to make things feel better? Turns out it is not magic. Touch is a powerful and necessary aspect of healing and survival.
When we are in pain, hugs can be a balm for the soul. When we are in joy, they are a way to share that experience. Physical touch helps us feel in synch with something greater than ourselves. It literally brings people together, permeating our physical layer and dissolving the divide between “us” and “other”.
Humans are not alone in needing touch and contact. Our dog, Tucker, begs for cuddles like other dogs beg for food. He will literally cut off his air supply if it means being close us. Google “animals hugging” and any worry you have will instantly melt away as you scroll through images of various creatures nuzzling against each other. (Pro tip: Add the word “cute” to your search to up the ante.) Turns out it is a very mammalian thing to do.
Touch is crucial for overall health and well-being. All of us need connection to thrive.
See also 5 Pillars of Finding a True Love Connection
Research Proves the Importance of Touch and Connection
Psychologist Harry Harlow turned the field of psychology upside down in the late 1050s when his research found that being cuddled and comforted outweighed being fed in the hierarchy of what is important for human development. This experiment was revolutionary, as it came during a period where it was believed that the only things human beings needed for survival were food and shelter.
In his experiment, Harlow looked at baby rhesus monkeys who were separated from their mothers at birth. His team tested different types of surrogate “mothers” in the monkey’s cages and observed who the baby monkeys were drawn to for both literal nourishment (read: food) and emotional nourishment (contact and comfort). The first “mother” was a wire figurine with a bottle as food source; the second “mother” was a cozy, terrycloth figurine, which would sometimes have food and sometimes not.
The baby monkeys chose the cloth mama, even when she did not have food. In fact, the monkeys would take what nourishment they needed from the wire “mother” and then run right back to the cloth “mama.” If something scared them, they ran to the cloth “mom” first, every single time.
Countless more research studies have proven the importance of physical connection: Touch is a potent analgesic for both acute and chronic pain; it soothes the nervous system; it can improve immunity; and it can also decrease anxiety. There is even research happening right now exploring therapeutic touch as an alternative treatment for cancer.
See also Get Grounded Anywhere: 7 Ways from Teacher Saul David Raye
This Healing Sequence Harnesses the Power of Touch
Here’s the best part: You don’t need contact with another person to receive all of the benefits of physical touch. In fact, you can learn to “hug” and “hold” yourself, using your own incredibly healing hands.
Just as we support and connect with others through physical touch, we can do the same for ourselves. In fact, we do this often when we practice yoga. Think about it: When you lightly lay your hands on your belly to track your breath or place your hands near your heart to sense your inner light, you are harnessing this great power of touch.
Learning to “hug” yourself is an important tool for self-soothing and to feel connected, and you can use this 7-pose sequence to cultivate connection through touch:
See also Cultivate Your Connections
See also A Home Practice to Cultivate Contentment
About the Author
Sarah Ezrin is a yoga teacher in Los Angeles. Learn more at sarahezrinyoga.com.
Claire Mark's Handstand Balancing Tip Will Forever Change How You Invert
It’s a simple tip with a big impact.
Yoga teacher Claire Mark loves getting into Handstands and other yoga inversions. This balancing tip is so simple, but will make a big impact for your practice.
See also This Sequence Will Help You Practice Inversions Safely
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5 Poses to Help You Reconnect With Your Partner After a Miscommunication
Even after a disagreement has ended, the effects can linger. Here’s how to foster communication and love after a fight.
I lost my mind the other day. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. One second, I was me—and the next I was time-warped into my childhood. My perception of the present moment was confused by old emotions and past hurts. I all but blacked out, unable to remember things that were said. And then I went catatonic. I felt trapped in a prison of anxious thoughts, yet I was unable to put anything to words. And all of it seemed to happen in an instant.
The catalyst for this temporary insanity? A spat with my husband about household chores.
We laughed about it once we were brought back to the present moment. But in the moment of the fight, we were anywhere but in the moment. If we could have listened above the noise of the thoughts to the omnipresent hum of our hearts, maybe we could have seen how silly this whole thing was much earlier. If we could have met on the heart-level instead of the head-level, maybe we could have had that extra hour to do what most fights in relationships are really about: connection.
According to the cardinal yogic text Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is defined as citta vritti nirodhah, or quieting the movements of the mind. In other words: Get out of your head. What happens when we do that? We get into our hearts, where we are connected to everyone and everything all the time. Yogis work on differentiating between the mind and the heart every time we come to our mats.
See also 3 Things I Learned After Taking a Break from My Yoga Practice
But, can we get real for a minute? When it comes to miscommunications with our partners, quieting the mind is particularly challenging. Put a yogi in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) for three minutes and most won’t bat an eye. Yet even the most grounded people I know can find themselves turned inside out and upside down by a fight with their partner.
On the surface, a fight may look like a squabble about a specific issue, such as your partner being on his phone during dinner or you always forgetting to close the dresser drawers. Yet what most fights are really about when we strip them down to their core is a request for connection. We are asking one another to hear above the words, “Please, can you put your phone down when we’re together, or remember to close the drawers when you are rushing to work?” What we are asking is that our partners hear our hearts’ requests, which is really asking our partners to be more present and conscientious.
The thing is, most of us get so caught up in the fears and emotions around the surface hurt that it’s hard for us to make the connection request from the heart. So instead, we attack one another from our minds and egos.
This is where our yoga practice can help and any tiff—big or small—become an opportunity for growth. Disagreements with our partners push us out of our comfort zones and ask us to take responsibility for our thoughts, words, and actions. They ask us to remove the walls we have fortified around hearts and stand vulnerably before someone, even when we are both upset. If we can learn to settle our thoughts and emotions, the ego is removed, and we tap into a special place that exists inside us all.
In this place, we are pure love. This is our true nature. This is our heart.
See also Two Fit Moms’ Heart-Opening Partner Yoga Sequence
What I was reminded of during this most recent spat with my husband is that sometimes, we must lose our mind, to find our heart. I created this five-pose yoga sequence to help all of us reconnect to our hearts—and our partners—after a miscommunication.
See also This 7-Pose Home Practice Harnesses the Power of Touch
About the Author
Sarah Ezrin is a yoga teacher in San Francisco. Learn more at sarahezrinyoga.com.
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