Partner yoga uses another person to support and deepen practice, sharing stretches and postures while building strength, flexibility, and balance, in a fun intimate way.
Partner yoga has become increasingly popular as a style of yoga all its own regardless of whether the practice is Ashtanga or Hatha. Often introduced as a single exercise at the end of a class, it has now become a complete class in its own right. Some classes are meant to be shared with a significant other but unless so specified, assume any two people who are couples, friends or strangers, may be partners in such a class.
What is Partner Yoga?
Two people doing exercises resembling yoga postures is a form of partner yoga. It has expanded to include dance form or acrobatic yoga such as acroyoga. Typically though, partner yoga features the following:
- Partners can be any two people, even a child and adult or the pet dog as in Doga.
- It is a physical relationship based on intimacy of touch and trust.
- If the strengths of the two people are unequal, postures can be modified accordingly.
- Partner yoga is learning about one’s own body in relationship to another body.
- In private yoga, the instructor may become the partner when using his/her body to prop or align the student.
Examples of Partner Yoga Positions
Begin standing with both partners facing the front of the room one behind the other.
- Down Dog lends itself nicely to partner yoga. Partner A takes the pose and partner B stands behind pulling back on A’s hips to release pressure on the wrist and shoulders while deepening the stretch by putting pressure on the low back by bending over A to deepen the stretch.
- Partner B may also gently place toes on the heels of A to hold the foot down on the floor.
A seated position also lends itself to partner yoga when both sit facing each other on the floor with legs hip distance part and straight out.
- Partner A places her legs in the hip of B while each grasps the upper arm of the other.
- Partner B slowly stretches back to a supine position while moving the upper body of A forward into a deep-seated bend.
- Partner B’s feet support A’s hips not allowing them to roll forward but anchoring them to the earth.
- After three such stretches, the positions are reversed.
A similar movement is more advanced, deepening the stretch by both partners having their legs opened to a slight V to do this same movement, or it can be done standing.
Partners can also help each other balance in the following way:
- Partners stand an arm width apart, facing front.
- Palms flexed, and opposite palms press against the others as they attempt to balance in tree pose on the same leg as extended arm. The opposite legs are mirror images of each other.
- The moving leg is pressed into tree as they mutually support each other.
- Positions are reversed to reverse legs.
Tips for Successful Partner Yoga
With the resurgence of popularity of yoga, everyone may want to share a pose.
- Don’t use a partner for a pose that cannot be done alone in some semblance of the posture.
- Always use a qualified instructor to moderate and observe.
- Do not practice when ill. Partnering easily spreads germs.
- Ask for modifications if the pose appears complex.
- Freely refuse to do anything that causes physical or emotional discomfort.
Different partners, like different yoga styles enable growth and new learning experiences. Partnering in yoga with a lover is obviously different from partnering with a total stranger although both share the goal of mind body fitness.