How’s Your Love Life?

By Jeanne Heileman, Yoga Teacher Trainer


When I first found yoga, I was just out of college and in an acting conservatory that used a lot of physical training to get us out of our heads and learn to use our body. We were often taught that our bodies were our tools, so we needed to know how to use them. I fell in love with my yoga class, for it was the one class where I wasn’t judged on how good I performed, or if I looked the part and was cast appropriately, or anything. I was allowed to be, to breathe, and to receive, instead of “do.” I truly fell in love.

Like any new relationship, I had to have my “love” in my life wherever I went. That meant with me in London, in Chicago, in Colorado, in Phoenix, anywhere and everywhere. If there wasn’t a specific class for me to connect with my “love,” I then instinctively did yoga on my own in my room. I was working on the relationship with my “love” and reaping the benefits. This relationship supported me through many good and bad boyfriends, changes that lead to stepping away from acting and going to graduate school, choosing not to marry the boy that I and everyone thought I would, to move back to Los Angeles, to leave a path of working in a field that never felt like a right fit, and towards the path of taking a yoga teacher training and becoming a yoga teacher.

Love Ripens Over Time

They say that love ripens over time, and I gotta tell you, it really is true. After 11 years of being in love with yoga, I finally decided to take a teacher training and immediately found myself becoming a full time teacher. Love has a way of changing our world in more ways than we could ever imagine. And my relationship with yoga became even deeper because I now knew so much more about yoga than I ever did simply by taking classes. I got to know more about each aspect of my “love” through the poses, the sequencing, the history, the philosophy; I was ravenous for more information. I could easily spend every waking moment with my “love”, and still learn more. The relationship that I had with yoga at this point was so much deeper than when we were in the honeymood period. And I was so fulfilled.

After years of teaching almost every day, blended with a devoted practice every day, I found myself – gasp! – sometimes kinda sick of yoga. I never could admit it; who can admit that they don’t want to be with their most devoted “love?” Yet I longed for a conversation about something else – even finance would be interesting to me because it was different. So, after about five years of teaching constantly, I started to wonder what else was out in the world. Like someone who doubts their commitment to a spouse and starts meeting other nice people, I started to wonder what else is out there? It was around that time that amazing teachers started to cross my path, to bring new insights into my “love” and help me grow even deeper in love with my “love.” While honoring many (see my website, I list those who truly have made a significant impact) I must admit that Rod Stryker is the one who really helped me see that there was more to yoga than just the poses. Wow, so much more. It’s like saying there is more to a relationship than just sex and good times together.

Play and Work With Love

I started to get to know my “love” and play and work with my “love” in so many ways that very, very few teachers in my community either know about or share. It’s as if I went to a relationship therapist, (a good one), with my “love” and we were in therapy for years. My practice deepened on so many levels, I discovered levels I never knew existed, and it (finally) started to show in my teaching. I naturally wanted to reach out and teach workshops on this material, to help others get more out of their “love” and deepen their relationships so that they could be as happy, too.

This bliss has continued for years. And every few years I still get that phase where I don’t like yoga. I want a break. Can I break up with yoga? What I’ve learned is that I get to give myself some space, without breaking up. I get to take a spinning class, or I get to sit on the couch and watch a movie instead of be on my mat. I get a specific amount of time to be away from my “love.” By giving myself this space, it always brings me back to my “love” with a renewed sense of appreciation and value.

My relationship to yoga has taught me so much about relationships in general. For one, a really, really good relationship is one that comes from the gift of time. And during that time, you may not like your beloved. And like deep relationships, I now see more inside my “love” than the on outside. It has taught me that I can love someone in my life, and not like them today, but not stop loving them. I feel more welcoming to those in my life, with less judgment and rules on how to behave. And, it has taught me that I can love my own self, while not liking certain behaviors in the moment, and not stop loving myself.

My devotion to my yoga is one that won’t ever stop. We made that commitment in 1985. But now I’ve learned that it will probably change instead of stay the same. What I used to do on my mat 25 years ago is different than what I do on my mat now. I’m absolutely fascinated with how I sequence my practice and play on my mat now, although I thought I had everything down years and years ago. And that teaches me to not hold on to what I’m doing now, but be open to how things will change on my mat in another 25 years. I’ll still be on it, and I know it will be different. And I have a feeling that I will be so tickled with those discoveries, as much as now.

So, when someone asks me about my love life, I now answer that it’s absolutely great! And getting better each day.

By Jeanne Heileman, Yoga Teacher Trainer