mindful marriage

Would you like a more mindful marriage? The practice and teachings of yoga have helped Sydney couple Harry and Bryony navigate the highs and lows of their work and their relationship. Jessica Humphries talks to the owners of Egg of the Universe – a yoga studio and wholefoods café — about their passion for spiritual growth, respecting each other and following your dreams.

I first met Harry and Bryony when I was completing a teacher training six years ago. Even at the time, I was impressed by their creation of a mindful marriage. I remember admiring them at the time, and the effortlessness in which they interacted with each other and their children. They were a young family indulging in the deliciousness of a special time, and yoga-ing through the journey. Our second meeting was more recent when I visited their beautiful studio, Egg of the Universe, in Sydney’s Rozelle. We practiced in a class together in one of the large and inviting upstairs shalas before enjoying a scrumptious meal at the studio’s on-site café. We sat in the garden surrounded by vibrant yogis enjoying their lunch, and chatted easily about love, life, yoga and everything in between. The pair met 20 years ago in London over dinner with mutual friends, while Australian Bryony was travelling to Harry’s homeland. They connected instantly and have been navigating the journey of life together ever since, building a bustling business and sustaining a loving connection and a mindful marriage, which has been facilitated by the practice and teachings of yoga.

How did Egg Of The Universe come about?

Harry – We had been running the yoga studio for many years already when the next door building became available. I had always been drawn to the food business and, in particular, wanted to share my passion for wholefoods, and together we had always dreamed of running an integrated wellness space. We decided to jump at the chance to create something unique.

Bryony – We had always dreamed of having a centre like Egg. It is a combination of all our greatest loves: yoga, good food, meditation and meaningful connections. Everything we offer at Egg Of The Universe stems from our personal practice. We will experience something ourselves on or off the mat and then once we have embodied it to the best of our abilities, we want to share with it our teachers and students.

How have you stayed together for as long as you have, what challenges have you come across along the road, and how has yoga helped you on the journey towards a more mindful marriage?

Harry – Our relationship recipe is based on good raw ingredients: we were naturally drawn to each other, shared similar values, were inspired by the same things and dreamed similar dreams. Beyond that you have the complicated task of learning to love and live together, which seems to continue to unfold until this day. In this never-ending dance we have been lucky that as we have grown as individuals we have continued to grow together and are often inspired by what the other may be uncovering with a new text or teacher. The simple practice of learning to energetically open the heart, which we both learned from Kevin Farrow of AcuEnergetics, has had a profound effect on my relationship with myself and has opened up how I relate to other people, including my wife.

There have, of course, been rough patches along the way and these will continue to come up every now and then but, focus too hard on the little difficult things, and you will be perpetually stuck in mental recriminations about minor things, rather than opening to the beauty of the whole. The fact that the recycling hasn’t been taken out doesn’t actually matter!

Bryony – One of the most enriching things has been watching Harry grow within himself in the 20 years we have been together and that has sustained my love for him in huge amounts. Mutual self-development for us has been really important and has allowed for continued deep respect and allows us to keep seeing each other in new light. Watching him, for example, prepare for his recent TedX talk was amazing. It was a huge privilege to be asked, and I am so impressed he said yes! There were times he was overwhelmed and vulnerable and rather than pushing me away, to my surprise, he leant in to my support, we worked together to prepare, and in that time I fell into such a place of love for him, deeper than ever before because he had gone to a new place within himself and had invited me there with him. It was a turning point for us in our love and connection. I was so happy his talk went well, but I was even more happy with the growth it invited for him as a man and us a couple. Growth has been very important for us both within ourselves and together.

One thing that also helps sustain our connection is consciously choosing each other again and again. If I ever go away for a training or extended time, I find again my inner ability to be alone and feel so strongly that I don’t need a partner, I am content, complete on my own … and yet when I am home again I relish choosing Harry anew. My life feels richer with him, it’s more fun and there is more opportunity for joy, laughter and intimacy.

Sustaining love is an ongoing practice for us; there are days when it really works and days when it’s more challenging. One thing that has helped a lot since having kids is bringing mindfulness into simple moments. If Harry brings me a tea or puts down an amazing meal he has made, I take a moment to check in with the gesture and receive it. Or if we are out with friends, I like looking across the room to notice him or really listen to his words if we are having a good chat. To stay present to each other, to our gifts and our challenges helps keep us in a space more often of moment-to-moment togetherness rather than taking anything for granted.

Yoga has been great over the years for a stretchy body and feeling strong and grounded but it’s been absolutely extraordinary as a tool for life, to apply to the everyday and transform all that we do into an extension of yoga. There isn’t a corner of our lives that is without the light of awareness.

Follow Harry and Briony at @eggoftheuniverse @bryonyalancaster, and keep up to date at  www.eggoftheuniverse.com