Remember sitting at your desk in grade school on Valentine’s Day? Remember the agonizing rituals? The way your heart thumped as kids left small cards on each others desks? The way you surreptitiously counted those cards to see how much love you were allotted that year? The decoding of messages on candy hearts, wondering if “be mine” really meant be mine.
No? Was it just me? Well, much as I would like to proclaim otherwise, I really haven’t grown much emotionally in all the years since then. The hearts. The candy. The special couples dinners at restaurants. I’ll admit it: Valentine’s Day can be hard on us single folk, much as we might scoff at it. Not even the day itself, but the days leading up it. The reminders everywhere that you’ve gone solo.
I’d been so busy these past few weeks, that I thought Valentine’s Day might fly under my radar this year. But then I went to my Yin Yoga class last night. And about halfway through, I had a sinking feeling in my chest. Oh no, I thought, she’s going to make us do partner yoga.
In Partner Yoga, you team up with someone about your same size. You go through a series of poses together, creating counterbalance and traction. Your partner’s presence makes it easier to go deeper than your ever could on your own. It involves trust. It involves getting over yourself.
I didn’t wanna. As I stood on my mat and my teacher’s words reached me—sometimes it takes a partner to help you learn your true self—I wanted to bolt. I wanted to opt out. I wanted to take my teacher aside and say “I really don’t feel like connecting with anyone today.” But of course I couldn’t. And I resigned myself as I turned to the woman on my left, a woman I’d never met before. A stranger.
We laughed nervously then sat facing each other, knee to knee. And the first pose we did was quite simple: I sat with my palms face up, and she put her palms face down on mine.
We sat together with eyes closed and breathed. Holding hands, but in the most vulnerable, open way possible. I felt a soft energy flow between us. It’s been so long since someone held my hand. And I started to cry.
Not with sobs or tears. The kind of crying that happens all on the inside: a welling up from the chest. A tingling behind the eyes. A dissolution of boundaries.
And then it passed. And what followed was a peaceful opening. We switched our hands and I gave her my warmth. We did straddle split forward bends together. We sat back to back, leaning against one another, and simply breathed. We reached back and found each other’s knees and twisted deeply.
The whole room grew….how can I put it? The only way I can say it is: in love. Our teacher looked around, her smile wide. It was a big class, had felt crowded when we started. And she said: See how it doesn’t feel like a big class now? It felt like there were so many of us, and now it feels like there’s just one. We all sighed our agreement.
This Valentine’s Day, may you find the love you seek deep in your own heart. And reach out to all the partners—inside and out—that support you in this devotion.