Yoga Poses

Partner Yoga

I only have a little experience with partner yoga, but I’ve found that there are quite a few advantages to practicing with another person in this way. Check out some of these photos at the Acro Yoga website. They’re amazing! Some of the poses depicted in the backward bends, forward bends, and twists sections might even be doable for us mortals.

Partner yoga can be a good way to get deeper into poses — sometimes a lot deeper — than you would just by practicing on your own. In fact, doing yoga with a partner can sometimes be even more helpful than just getting assists from your teacher. In partner yoga, you often use the other person’s body weight and/or strength to actively push, pull, or stretch your body into different positions. Teachers, usually for liability reasons, aren’t so rough and tough with you when they give you assists, and they tend to be cautious with you unless you have a really close relationship with your teacher. By contrast, in partner yoga, so long as you have some kind of relationship with your partner and some degree of mutual trust, you may find yourself able to push and be pushed to a degree that your teacher would never do. Of course, this can be a bad thing if you go overboard and someone gets hurt, so it’s probably a good idea to learn most of these partner yoga poses under the guidance of an experienced partner yoga teacher.

Another great advantage of partner yoga, I think, is that the poses are typically designed so that both people get something out of them (whereas when your teacher gives you an assist, you’re usually the only one getting anything out of it). Since both partners are giving and receiving some benefit from the partner yoga poses, it’s more feasible to schedule in several partner yoga poses into your practice, or even design entire sequences that involve mostly partner yoga poses.

Lastly, I think partner yoga can be a great way to deepen a friendship or relationship with another person. The amount of trust it takes, say, to allow someone to balance your entire body in the air with just their feet is the kind of thing that will likely translate into matters of trust off the mat. In our regular asana practice, we have to learn to trust ourselves. In partner yoga, we have to learn to trust others, and we have to learn to allow others to trust us.

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2 thoughts on “Partner Yoga

  1. I love partner work and I believe that even though it may be awkward for students at first 99% of people relax quickly and end up having at lot of fun. Generally when I am incorporating partner work into regular flow style classes I save it for the last 20 to 30 minutes of class. This way people have had time to relax and get comfortable in their own body before having to share their personal space with others.

    There are a few great and simple poses that can be done that don’t require a lot of physical contact between students. Flying dog is always a big hit, it looks cool and is easier then it may seem at first. One person goes into downward facing dog and the other person does down dog about a foot to a foot and a half in front of them with their feet placed gently on the top of their partners pelvis/sacrum area. With all partner work it is important to have students pair up with someone similar to their own size and this is very true with this posture. Also assisted folds or twists can be done with students only holding each others hands or wrists, which isn’t very threatening.

    I always encourage students to ask and give lots of feedback during each posture that way they stay connected to their partner and it stays safe as well. Encourage people to have fun and explore how partner yoga can enhance their experience of some regular postures.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Jennifer. I agree, that “flying dog” pose is good fun; I’ve done it a few times in class and it’s always something that everyone enjoys.

    I’ll be posting some pictures and some recommendations soon for other partner yoga poses that I’ve tried and enjoyed. Hopefully you can try a few out in class and let me know what your students think!

    Namaste!

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