Demystifying Partner Yoga

Demystifying Partner Yoga

The hottest new trend hitting the yoga community is far less independent and far more collective than your typical yoga practice. Rather than staying glued to your yoga mat and desperately avoiding eye contact with everyone else in the room, partner yoga classes invite yogis to connect on a much deeper level, engaging in everything from steady eye contact to therapeutic touch to playful acrobatic moves with one another. That said, partner yoga does not have to mean hyper-advanced circus-like flying across the yoga studio, and can be practiced in much more subtle, haha yoga style.

Partner yoga is celebrated internationally for connecting two people in the creation of new, dynamic and supported yoga postures that use a fellow human body to add resistance, depth and new expression to the postures. Partner yoga is an exciting new way to approach your yoga practice accompanied by your partner, friend, family member or even stranger in one of the most powerful team building exercises out there.

Benefits of Partner Yoga

Partner yoga allows you to learn new postures and bypass limitations in your asana practice. It also:

  • Increases confidence, patience and trust
  • Improves communication skills with your partner
  • Teaches humility, playfulness and intimacy in a safe environment
  • Deepens balance, alignment and stability
  • Allows yogis to experience delicious, soothing and relaxing assisted postures
  • Learn new postures and bypass limitations in your asana practice
  • Giving and receiving assists

Partner yoga is all about trust and communication as you support each other through the practice. Don’t worry if you don’t get a post perfectly – the point is to keep connecting. Here are some helpful tips for how to give and receive gentle assists:

  • Start out gently and then slowly put more pressure or power behind your assists, as needed
  • Communicate with your partner about how each adjustment is working
  • Observe your partner’s body and breath for feedback

What to Expect

Curious about what type of poses to expect in a partner yoga class? Here are some examples of the asanas covered in a partner-assisted yoga The hottest new trend hitting the yoga community is far less independent and far more collective than your typical yoga practice. Rather than staying glued to your yoga mat and desperately avoiding eye contact with everyone else in the room, partner yoga classes invite yogis to connect on a much deeper level, engaging in everything from steady eye contact to therapeutic touch to playful acrobatic moves with one another. That said, partner yoga does not have to mean hyper-advanced circus-like flying across the yoga studio, and can be practiced in much more subtle, haha yoga style.

Partner yoga is celebrated internationally for connecting two people in the creation of new, dynamic and supported yoga postures that use a fellow human body to add resistance, depth and new expression to the postures. Partner yoga is an exciting new way to approach your yoga practice accompanied by your partner, friend, family member or even stranger in one of the most powerful team building exercises out there.

Try It Yourself: Partner-Assisted Yoga Session

Back to Back Seated Meditation

Both partners will sit in a simple cross legged seated posture, with the base of their spines connected and supporting one another. To come into this pose, you can come from standing back to back and slowly lower down together. To solidify the base connection at the sacrum, partners lean forward then shift their hips back until the pelvic bones connect. Returning to an upright position, allow shoulder blades to softly connect, and begin to synchronize your breath, holding this space for anywhere from 3-20 minutes of collective meditation.

Flow  Options

  • One partner leans back while the other partner leans forward
  • Partners flow from side to side (with heads or entire torso), clasped hands overhead.
  • Partners take one another hands and lift arms up overhead on the inhale (option to side bend)

Standing Backbend with a Partner

Partners rise to standing the same way that the came down and return to eye gazing exercise. Turn face-to-face with each other. Grab each other’s forearms near your elbows, taking a long exhale, patiently begin to lift your hearts to the sky as you lean back and straighten your arms. Drop your head back and hold for 5–10 breaths.

Flow Option:

  • Return upright, stand further apart with arms on one another shoulders as you release down through a neutral spine.
  • Turn back to back, bend elbows and Partner 1 bends deep in knees and folds forward, bringing partner 2 with them (over their spine), move back and forth 1-2 times each, and explore movements with each others arms.

Sun Salutations/Surya Namaskar A

– Partners stand facing one another about 2 feet apart on their respective mats, moving through 2 guided sun salutations trying to hold eye contact any time they can. Option to repeat a third time but facing back to back, still connecting the gaze.

Downward Facing Dog/Adho Mukha Svanasana

The assisting partner will stand at your partner’s head in Downward-Facing Dog, steadying one foot in front of the other. Place your hands on either side of your partner’s pelvis and gently press up and back.

The practicing partner begins in downward down, taking deep breaths as you feel the pressure that your partner is giving your hips. Root down into your hands, while your neck relaxed. Enjoy the lengthening along your entire back line. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.

Warrior 2/Virabhadrasana

Take warrior 2 pose facing opposite directions on the yoga mat and take hold of each others hands while finding a solid connection with the outside edges of your feet. Sink into a 90 degree angle with the front knee. Hold 5 breaths.

Flow Options

  • Option to extend and bend the front leg
  • Option for both partners to straighten front legs, lower clasped arms, and reach extended arms up and back into exalted triangle. Flow 1-3 times, moving slowly.

Half Moon Pose/Ardha Chandrasana

The assisting partner will stand closely beside your partner’s hips, acting as a stable base for balance. Place one hand on your partner’s upper hip while placing your other hand against your partner’s lifted palm to stabilize with some resistance. Your job is to be a point of reference for establishing their balance, enabling them to open deeper into the posture.

The practicing partner will move from standing pose, perhaps with a block set on the corner edge of the mat. Extend your right arm towards the floor/block, while lifting your right leg up and pushing your heel towards the wall behind you. Encourage external rotation in your grounded leg to energize the extension in your lifted leg. Gently hold hands with your partner and press your palm into your partner’s, embracing the support, space and stability that your partner helps you achieve. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Wheel Pose/Urdhva Dhanurasana (advanced)

The assisting partner will stand firmly at your partner’s head with knees bent and feet wide apart. feet wide apart, keeping your knees bent. Ask your partner to firmly grip your ankles, and as your partner inhales and rises into the posture, use strength to bend down and slide the palms of your hands beneath your partners shoulder blades. Be gentle, stable and supportive.

The practicing partner will begin by lying on the earth with knees bent and shoulders in set directly in front of partner’s toes. Firmly grasp your partner’s ankles to support your shoulders, triceps, and chest expansion while launching into wheel pose. Use your breath by inhaling as you rise up to shine through your heart. With engaged legs and arms, relax your chest and enjoy for 3-5 breaths.

Partner Squat/Malasana   

Cross each others arms to hold each others wrists. Squat up and down, keeping your elbows straight while maintaining the tension of your body weight. After 3-5 squats, lower yourselves down and both partners release the right arm and open to the right, keeping the left elbow straight, then switch sides. Move through this flow 5-10 times, increasing and decreasing the speed before holding each others wrists and connecting at the gaze for 5 breaths.

Come to seated from the final squat.

Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend/Upavistha Konasana

From seated, sit facing each other with legs wide open. Partner A, press feet into partner B’s shins. Clasp each other’s wrists with hands. Partner A, lean back as partner B eases into a forward bend. Breathe here, swaying a bit side to side. Reverse the movement back to start position and repeat, switching positions.

Partner Forward Bend/Paschimottanasana

Finally, it is time to really slow down and restore after those big, bold, postures you have explored. This seated forward fold does just the trick. The practicing partner will sit on the earth (or on a prop), and with engaged thighs lower the torso down towards the floor. Meanwhile, the assisting partner will stabilize themselves behind their partner, rooting through their feet, as they lower and connect their spine along the partners spine. The assisting partner may reach all the way back to your flexed feet, exploring a new depth in this delicious stretch

Childs Pose

The assisting partner will wait until their partner is settled into child’s pose, finding a stable stance behind their body, before placing both hands securing on either side of their lower spine. Syncing their breath, the assisting partner will anchor their palm on the back, then begin to walk their hands up the edges of the spinal body with medium pressure.

Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)

The assisting partner will allow their partner to first come into a reclining spinal twist. When they are settled, softly place one hand on partner’s top hip and the other hand on their shoulder.  Add gentle pressure to stretch the space between the hip and shoulder as your partner exhales, gently stretch the hip and shoulder away.

Meanwhile, the practicing partner is resting flat on the floor, with arms extended your arms away from shoulders. Take an exhale to draw knees through centre before lowering them to the left. Stay for 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Flying Plank Pose (Advanced) OPTIONAL

SET UP

Base: Lie on your back with legs to the sky, your heels over your hips.

Flyer: Stand facing your base with your toes almost touching their glutes.

Base: Bring your feet to the hipbones of the flyer, bending your knees a little to connect in a reverse hand-to-hand grip.

FLY

Flyer: Lean forward into your base’s feet, keeping your body in one line from shoulders to heels.

Base: With straight arms, receive the weight of your flyer in your feet, then straighten your legs and stack your heels directly over your hips, keeping your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight.

Spotter: Stand next to the flyer’s hips. Make sure the base and flyer are safe, and help the base keep their heels directly over their hips for maximum balance.

Flyer: Engage your core and allow the base to lift you off the ground.

Base: Keep your arms straight, shoulder blades grounded into your mat, and your hands directly over your shoulders.

Flyer: Push into the hand connection and lift your toes like in Locust Pose. Stay here for 5–10 breath cycles.

COME DOWN

Base: Bend your legs to bring the flyer’s feet to the floor.

Corpse Pose/Savasana

The practicing partner will release their entire body onto the mat. Make any final fighting before resigning into complete stillness, lengthening your legs on the mat, turning your palms to face up and relaxing every last muscle in your body (including your mind!).  The assisting partner will find a steady stance, behind the practicing partners feet and elevate their legs slowly swaying from side to side until they release back to the floor. Partner then massages up calves, and moves to stand at the head and place the palms of their hands onto their partners shoulders, pointing your palms towards the feet or fingers, offering gentle massage to encourage the relaxation of the shoulders.

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*If you have heart problems, high blood pressure or are pregnant, please advise your doctor before completing this practice. Immediately release from the pose if you feel painful sensations. Contact me at www.ashleyholly.com for more information about your yoga practice. Photo Credits: Nathan White Photography. If you simply love my multi-colored sunset pants in the photo, enjoy a 15% Discount on all Inner Fire Clothes Promo Code “ashleym15”

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