Partner Tree Pose, Vrksasana
Deepen your Yoga practice with Partner Supported Postures!
Yoga means Union, and what better way to express that notion then to come together with another person to create fun and supportive two-person poses! Additionally, attending a Partner yoga class or even practicing a few partner Yoga poses together is a fun way to connect and spend some time with your Valentine this year. Keep in mind that partner yoga isn’t reserved for couples only, so if you are unattached go ahead and try out a few poses with someone that you trust such as a close friend or co-worker, maybe a parent, child or sibling, someone that you are comfortable touching.
There are many ways that you can practice partner yoga, from mirroring each other in the poses, to providing support and assistance in more challenging poses to full on acrobatic partner work in Acroyoga. The goal of this type of practice is to make a connection both within yourself as well as with another being. Partnering up brings about a playful and supportive yoga experience that can help to facilitate stretching, communication and trust, and it’s also a lot of fun!
Before you try out the following postures, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Communication is Key. Make sure you listen to the verbal and non-verbal cues from your partner. Ask how they feel if you aren’t sure. Speak up if you want more or less support or pressure.
2. You are responsible for your Partners Safety. Respect each others limits and be mindful of how you use your body.
3. Have Fun! If you fall, laugh and get back up. Enjoy your experience!
Easy Pose, Sukhasana is the perfect way to begin a partner practice. Sit facing each other taking a few breath to check in with yourselves and prepare the body and mind for the practice.
Another option for beginning your practice is to sit back to back, which enables you to feel each others breath to synchronize your inhalations and exhalations.
This is a wonderful was of assisting your partner into a deeper forward fold in Paschimotanasana by gradually relaxing back while holding onto their hands or wrist.
This variation allows one partner to open the hips and lengthen the spine in Cobblers Pose, Baddha Konasana, while the other enjoys a back-bend in fish, Matsyasana.
This advanced variation of Frog pose engages the shoulders, chest and back with the addition of the back-bend. Practice caution when moving into and out of this position.
A less intense variation of Frog pose with the backbend. Remember to respect the physical limitations of your partner as you assist their postures!
A little extra weight on the back during Child’s pose, Balasana, can feel amazing! In this variation the partner in Balasana press down gently on their partners palms opening the chest.
In this variation additional weight is placed on the lower back as one partner practices Crow, Bakasana on the back of the partner in Child’s pose, Balasana.
Practicing back to back, with palms touching allows the body to maintain contact and offers support to both partners. Try transitioning from side to side without loosing contact.
Adding in the twist, partners turn towards each other, letting the top hands touch and adding the twist in the neck so that both partners are looking up at the hands.
Practice Dancer Pose, Natarajasana, facing your partner and bringing your forward hand to the arm or shoulder of your partner, but dont push too hard!
Moving into Warrior III, Virabhadrasana III, facing your partner. Extend the arms out to meet eachothers arms or shoulders as you lengthen through to your toes.
With your partner in Handstand hold their legs where comfortable providing a little additional lift to build strength and endurance.
In this Handstand partners begin back to back in order to drape the legs of one partner over the shoulders of the other.
This variation moves the partner in Handstand into a lengthening back-bend. Move from the above Handstand variation slowly bending forward.
One partner in Downward Facing Dog, while the other practices a handstand with their feel on the sacrum of the partner in Down Dog.
This variation of Three Leg Down Dog allows for a deep yet supported stretch in the hamstrings and hips. Move with care into and out of these positions.
The partner in Down Dog helps to support the Scorpion variation of the Handstand. Contact is back to torso which allows you to feel your partners energy and the movement of their breath.
We hope that you have enjoyed these partner poses! I wanted to take a moment and say a Big Thank You to my friend, classmate and fellow instructor, Reno Gorman, for his assistance with these pictures and post. We look forward to having more of Reno on AlchemYoga in the coming months!
Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Happy Valentines Day & Namaste!
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by Ashley Freeman RYT
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+
Reno Gorman started practicing Hatha yoga in 2002 and teaching in 2007. Trained in Raja Yoga, Acroyoga, Yin Yoga, and Capoeira, Reno leads inversion and Yin yoga workshops in addition to teaching weekly yin/yang, vinyasa, beginner and intermediate classes at The Yoga Seed Collective and Rise Yoga Studio in Sacramento, Ca.