All Roads Lead to Yoga!
My husband does not share my enthusiasm for yoga. But for years I have tried to get him to practice with me because I think it would be good for him. First, he gets headaches several times a month. They are not migraines, but they are pretty severe and can last several days. He has medication that is usually effective, but when it isn’t, it’s hard to watch him suffer. We have tried to identify triggers for them, but nothing seems consistent. I’ve become convinced that they are brought on by work-related stress, and that a regular yoga practice would help. “Just try practicing with me consistently for a few weeks, and let’s see if that makes a difference,” I say. But he has declined my invitation.
My husband is a tremendous athlete. He is one of those people who does a wide range of sports and activities—some of them very infrequently—and excels at them all. It really is amazing to watch him. But, we’re getting older, and he’s had some injuries that have set him back, and he’s been very discouraged by them. Again, I have argued that a regular yoga practice would likely help protect against some of these injuries, but he remains unconvinced. In fact, I have so often touted the benefits of yoga that he exclaimed one day, “I can’t complain about anything, because all roads lead to yoga! No matter what my problem is, the solution is always yoga!” “Yes…..and your point is…??” This dynamic reached its zenith one day, after my husband had played a round of golf with some friends. We were all having dinner together when my husband started complaining that his back felt a little tight after playing so many holes. One friend said, “You know what would help with that? You should try yoga.” My husband wailed: “NOOOOOOOOO! Why did you have to say that in front of my wife?!” I laughed soooo hard. I thought it might be a breakthrough, but he still wasn’t interested.
Now, it’s not as if he never practices with me. Every once in a while he will agree to a little yoga. I’m careful not to make the practice too long, or to include anything too “out there” for him, like chanting. But, I can’t lie. I would love for him to practice with me more regularly. In fact, I’ve tried hard to make it happen. Truth be told, I’ve taken up a large number of the sports and activities that he enjoys—because he wanted me to, and so we could do more things together. So I tried to use that to my advantage: “You know, over the years I’ve logged a lot of hours in running, downhill skiing, golf—all things that I would not do on my own—just to be with you. Why can’t you do this with me?” How’s that for a good “healthy” dose of manipulation?? Or when I would come back from a yoga workshop, I would say to him, in a slightly threatening tone: “There’s gonna be a lot more yoga in your future, Buddy.” But I haven’t really followed through. Because, in the end, I want him to want to do yoga with me. And forcing, berating, manipulating him into it just seems like a decidedly un-yoga way to go about it. So instead, I usually ask if he wants to join me. If he doesn’t say “yes” right away, I tell him it’s OK—he doesn’t have to if he doesn’t want to. And, at this point, I really mean that. For me, all roads do lead to yoga, but that is not true for him. And I’ve decided that if I ask once, it is a genuine invitation, but if I badger (or worse) I am on the fast train to controlling, and I don’t wanna go there. Yoga isn’t his thing, and forcing the issue not only creates stress for us both, it suggests that somehow he is a disappointment as a partner, which isn’t at all true. Coming to this place reminds me that I’m not really out to change him. My job is to just love him as he is, for who he is. Which is pretty easy. Because he is wonderful.
I’ve also come to realize that I was reading his reluctance to take up yoga as a negative judgement about my choice to embrace it. Yoga wasn’t appealing to him, wasn’t “good enough,” and that seemed to stir up my own feelings of not being “good enough.” It sounds silly to say it out loud like that, but it does explain why I tried so hard to get him to practice with me. But as I live more authentically—being more of who I really am in the world—what others do or think has become much less important. As I release limiting beliefs around being “good enough” and let more of me shine through, I am more accepting of others—exactly as they are…whether or not they practice yoga!