When we think of partner yoga, we think of lovers. The closeness, the intimacy, the sweat. But you don't have to partner with your boyfriend or girlfriend to take your yoga to the next level.
A friend or yoga buddy will do just fine! Using a partner is a great way to intensify the stretch, and take your practice somewhere it hasn't gone before. You just might surprise yourself.
Partner Yoga Basics
1. Get Comfortable
Working with a partner means getting physical. And this might mean getting closer to someone that you haven't had the pleasure of knowing in that way. Loosen your boundaries, and prepare to get close.
2. Get Moving
When your partner moves, move with them, attempting to feel what they feel. Think about what would feel good to you in a pose, then help them in that way to stretch deeper. And move with your breath. Try to match your breath with theirs. Inhale to lift the limb or joint, then exhale to lengthen and get deeper.
Both verbal and nonverbal communication are important in partner yoga. If something feels good, speak up! If you need them to use gravity to go deeper, let them know. And don't be afraid to ask questions about what is working for them, either.
Trust is of utmost importance. How often do we put up our guard, therefore limiting our possibility to go further? Don't be afraid to put trust in your yoga partner. They want the same things you do; a great stretch, to try something new, and to go to their edge. And if you fall down, so what? Get right back up! It's more fun to fall with someone else anyway. The trust you allow yourself to feel while being suspended in the air by someone, or pulling away so far that you would fall backwards if you let go, is a sign of emotional health. This takes courage, and a little bit of trust in yourself as well.
Partner Yoga Poses To Try
1. Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
Take a seat on your sitz bones, legs spread wide, feet flexed. Facing your partner (who is doing the exact same thing), scoot forward so the soles of your feet are touching. Hinge forward from the waist, brining your chest close to the mat, grabbing on to your partner's hands. Moving with your breath, stretch forward as your partner leans backwards, pulling your arms forward. Allow yourself to be pulled forward, feeling the stretch in your shoulders and thigh adductors. Extend the knees to straight, keeping the thighs rolled out at the hip. Relax the head, neck, and shoulders. Switch. Hold the posture for 8-10 breaths.
2. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottananasana)
Find staff pose, seated on the mat with your feet extended out in front of you, legs together, feet flexed, back straight, arms by your sides. Your partner has his or her back to you, their feet are bent, feet pressed firmly into their mat. Inhale your arms up, and exhale to fold forward, bringing your forehead to your knees and hands to the shins, ankles, or toes. Your partner presses against your back with their back as you fold down, pressing her feet into the floor to lift the hips, allowing the arms to open out to the sides. You feel an intense stretch in the back of the hamstrings, sacroiliac joints, and lumbar spine. Your partner feels the stretch in the quadriceps, chest, and shoulders. Switch . Hold the posture for 8-10 breaths, allowing gravity to do the work.
3. Downward Facing Dog (Mukha Svanasana)
Find your downward facing dog, hands spread wide, feet hip distance or together (you choose), and tailbone lifted. Your partner stands with his or her feet at your head, turned away from you, taking a wide stance and then folding into the mat, hands plant on the mat, head hangs heavy. She then walks her feet up your back until reaching the lumbosacral area, pressing her feet into your low back, coming into a double downward-facing dog. This intensifies the stretch in your upper arms, shoulders, low back, hamstrings, and calves. Breath and move together, finding what works for both of you. Find stillness in the posture, and hold for 8-10 breaths. Switch.
Partner yoga is the perfect way to take your asana practice to the next level and connect with someone at the same time.
Share the gift of yoga by enjoying deeper stretches with the assistance of your partner, giving and receiving the benefits. Have fun exploring different postures and ways to make modifications in the postures in order to make it feel best for you by communicating with your yoga partner.