Partner Yoga: Connecting and Growing Together
Valentine’s Day always seems to be to be roughly the same Hallmark holiday, filled with flowers, candy, cards, dinner, and maybe a little romance. What if you tried something different to celebrate sharing each moment with your loved one? Partner Yoga is a type of yoga that is perfect for sharing your practice and connecting on a deeper level. You can bring your sweetheart, your family, or your friend and share the experience together. For you athletes, it can also be a bit like acrobatics.
In my family yoga class, partner yoga poses are a time for play, stretching, and connection. A married couple in my class attends every week with their two kids. They practice the poses with their kids and then with each other. Seeing the family connect with each other and build their practice together is truly rewarding. Not only does partner yoga build balance and offer a deeper stretch by using your partner’s body, but it also brings some play and fun to the mat.
Here are some partner yoga poses to try with your loved ones:
Double Down Dog - One partner will be in down dog. The other partner will do down dog on top of their partner by placing their feet on their low back area.
Heart Opener - One partner will be on the mat in a forward fold. The other partner will lie on their partner with their chest opened, legs stretched out or bent. Most of the top partner's weight will be towards the feet.
Standing Back Bend - Start facing each other. Place your hands palm-to-palm, arms stretched overhead, and step back while pressing your hands together. You will end up hinged forward at the waist, pressing palms against each other, faces toward each other.
Double Forward Fold - Standing back-to-back, fold forward and grab arms behind one another.
Leg Stretch - Place your feet on your partner’s ankles at their widest length, then grab each other’s arms. Fall back to allow for a deeper stretch.
Here are a few things to remember before starting your partner yoga practice:
First, have a basic knowledge of yoga poses. Some forward folds, child’s pose, down dog, and a few others will be helpful in starting to work with a partner. Working with your partner requires some body awareness first, then sensitivity and receptivity to your partner. Start where you are at your level and don’t push it. If you’re limited in your movements, have injuries, or cannot do certain poses, listen to your body.
Work with a yoga instructor that has knowledge in partner yoga and/or purchase some partner yoga books or videos. Look for a studio that offers a partner yoga workshop in your area and ask about the level. If you practice at home or in a studio, make sure there are padded mats to work on especially if you’re new to the practice. Sometimes martial arts or gymnast studios have great mats for partner yoga.
Be sensitive to your partner’s needs and listen to your partner. This is key in starting to practice yoga with a partner. Be mindful about your body and don’t force it. Remember that body weight and size can play a part in whether you will be a flyer or a base in some poses. It’s ideal to work with someone with a similar body weight and size for some of the partner yoga poses.
And, most of all, enjoy and have fun! Partner Yoga is yoga playtime. Practice, breathe, stretch, listen, connect, and fly.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.