But every so often your teacher may throw you a curveball in class, asking you to pair up with someone and try a partner yoga pose together. And suddenly there is conversation, a spark, a fun energy that was not in the room just a few minutes prior. That’s the sound of partner yoga!
If you’ve tried it, you may already know that partner yoga gives us a constant source of yummy, effective hands-on adjustments---bringing us into a deeper expression of poses than we can take ourselves. It also teaches us valuable skills in communication, trust, surrender, problem solving and much more.
So if you’ve ever wanted to try partner yoga, grab a friend or loved one and try these five simple partner yoga practices:
1) Back-to-back Seated Meditation:
Sitting back-to-back on the mat in Easy Pose (Sukhasana), lean your body forward and scoot your hips back until you can feel the base of your spine meeting your partner’s sacrum. Without leaning your weight onto your partner’s back, sit straight up and let your shoulders lightly rest on your partner’s own shoulders. If either of you feels leaned on, hinge forward and repeat the search for that firm sacral connection at the base of your spine, then sit up tall again. Sit for a few minutes, allowing your breath to be steady and smooth, perhaps coming into rhythm with your partner’s own breath. Feel the simultaneous act of giving and receiving support, and grounding effect as you prepare to move with your partner.
2) Child’s Pose / Backbend:
Have your partner come into a comfortable Child’s Pose (Balasana) with arms extended in front on the floor. Allow them to settle into the pose for a few breaths, then walk behind them and rest your hands on their lower back right above their hips. Slowly press their hips down towards the floor, tractioning their spine and further opening their hips. Then carefully sit down on their hips facing away from their body, keeping your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Carefully lie down on their back, letting your head rest back slowly, checking in with yourself and your partner to make sure you are both comfortable. Next, extend your legs long onto the floor, letting your body weight rest on your partner’s back. For a deeper shoulder and chest stretch, your partner can hold your wrists or hands and gently pull your arms into a nice stretch. To release the pose, take your hands onto the floor and slowly slide your hips down to the floor. This final traction should feel very nice on your partner’s lower back. Switch partners and repeat the pose.
3) Low Lunge:
Begin with both partners coming into Downward Dog facing each other. Inhale your right leg into the air, then exhale step forward between your hands, aligning your right knee over your heel. Lower your left knee to the mat, sliding it back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Inhale your hands up to meet your partner’s hands. Pressing into their palms will bring your pelvis slightly closer to the mat and deepen the stretch for your hip, groin and thigh. Breathe for 5-8 rounds here and switch sides.
4) Partner Pigeon Pose:
Again, start with both partners in Downward Dog facing each other. Inhale your right leg long, exhaling as you release your right knee to the mat into Pigeon Pose. Take a moment to adjust your body in pigeon, making sure both hips are even. Once both partners have found stability in their own body, strengthen your core, inhale your arms overhead and bring hands to touch. Press into your partner’s hands and upwards, bringing the stretch into your shoulders and chest. With your core strong and your arms active, enjoy pigeon in a very different way than you’ve ever felt before. Stay here for 5-8 breaths and switch sides.
5) Wide Leg Forward Bend:
Sit facing your partner as you both bring legs wide preparing for a Wide-angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana). One partner brings their feet to rest on their partner’s ankles (usually this is the person with less flexibility in their legs). Both partners take a moment to inwardly rotate their thighs and find their sitting bones on the mat, sitting tall. (If the lower back is rounding at all, find a blanket or pillow to sit on to help maintain a straight spine.) Extend your arms in front and grab your partner’s wrists softly. Both partners inhale together, and exhale as one partner slowly folds forward and the other partner leans back. Both partners keep their arms long, spines straight and collarbones wide. Communicate with your partner when you’ve found a deep stretch and stay here for 5-8 breaths. Inhale up together and switch to the opposite side.
Take a moment to conclude your practice together in silence, finding a few minutes in Savasana before you continue with your day. Remember to give thanks to your partner for their support and honor them for their presence. Namaste.
Looking for more partner yoga? Click here for a 60 minute partner yoga vinyasa flow video, designed for all levels of yoga experience.
By Amy Baglan
Amy Baglan is a registered yoga teacher and the founder of YogaDates, a national series of yoga events for singles and couples based in Denver, CO. Each day she works tirelessly to spread love, passion and the power of yoga---especially partner yoga---to people around the world. Amy left New York City to pursue her passions a few years ago and never looked back. She studied Ashtanga yoga in India and fell in love with Thai massage in Chiang Mai, Thailand before gratefully calling Colorado her new home. She is also a certified Principle-Based Partner Yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist.
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