By Melissa Williams
If you’ve tried yoga, or experienced the feel in a yoga class when the teacher gives you a much-needed adjustment, you understand that yoga can be greatly assisted when someone else helps you deepen into your postures. But did you know that practicing with someone—in partner poses—can also increase your bond and your trust with one another? Ready to give it a try? Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Heart-Opening Tadasana
Stand facing one another with your feet hip-distance apart and parallel. Extend your arms toward one another so you can hold each other’s forearms with your arms slightly bent. Take a deep inhale, exhale feel your feet rooting to the Earth. On the next inhale, lift the heart and chest and lean back, straightening your arms. Holding each other up, stay here for several breaths. Inhale, and exhale return to stand.
Benefit: This pose encourages trust and opening and softening of the heart. It also helps to open the hips and groin.
2. Double Tree
Stand next to your partner, facing the same direction. You want to stand close enough that you can touch but not so close that your hips knock into one another. With your inside leg as your “rooted” leg, move your weight into the inside leg. Gently lift the outside leg, bringing it to your ankle, shin, or groin. (Each partner can do choose their own placement, just be sure it isn’t directly on the knee.) Bring your outside hands together into a prayer position and extend your inner arms above your head, gently reaching your hands for one another. Stay here for 5 breaths and then switch sides.
Benefit: This pose encourages balance- you each have to trust and balance with one another. If anyone is too dominant or too weak you’ll topple. Now, what kind of metaphor is that?!
3. Double Downward Dog
This pose is more challenging, so only practice it if you each feel confident in downward-facing dog. Have one partner form a downward-facing dog. Then have the other person stand in front of partner in downward dog with their feet facing the same direction. Placing their hands on the floor, lift their feet onto their partner’s back- bringing their feet to their partner’s sacrum. (Both partner’s should be in downward dog, facing the same direction.) Stay here for 5-10 breaths and then switch.
Benefit: This is an excellent pose to stretch the hamstrings and calves and open the back. It also is a fun way to practice!
4. Double Back to Back.
Sitting on the floor with your back to one another, choose to sit in cobblers pose (baddha konasana) or wide straddle (upavista konasana). (You can each choose for yourself.) Choose which partner is going to fold forward first. Gently folding forward the other partner will recline back onto their partner’s back, allowing their head to rest on their shoulders and their arms to open to the sides. Stay here for 1 minute and then using the strength of the folded partner’s arms, slowly rise to seated. Switch sides.
Benefit: This pose helps open the hips, inner groin, hamstrings and heart in a much more significant way than practicing solo.