Yoga doesn't have to be a solo activity. Get together with a friend or family member for a fun partner yoga workout.
While one doesn’t usually think of yoga as a team sport, partner yoga is fast becoming a popular program at local studios.
Expand your practice
Partner yoga is a practice utilizing two people in every pose. Some are partner-assisted stretches (one person adjusting the other into a deeper pose), while others are a series of poses where both partners mutually receive the benefits.
Chris Brandt, of Contact Yoga (contactyoga.ca), says, “Practising with one other person on your mat is a fantastic (and tremendously fun) way to expand into yoga beyond your individual practice.” Brandt points out that the word “yoga” means union in Sanskrit, and that is precisely what partner yoga aims to achieve—a uniting of two people.
Not just for couples
While one might first think of requiring the participation of a loved one for a partner yoga class, Michael Rudd, yoga instructor and studio owner (openspaceyoga.com), says that this couldn’t be further from the truth. While, yes, partner yoga is a perfect exercise for a life couple, it is also ideal for any two people, romantically involved or not.
Instead, the practice of partner yoga teaches us to connect to and trust our partner, making this one of the best team-building exercises around.
Benefits of partner yoga
Yoga is meant to increase our personal fitness as well as improve our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. But partner yoga’s benefits extend far beyond these traditional advantages.
For instance, partner yoga is about touch first and stretch second. While some people may be uncomfortable with being touched, there is no denying that the human body benefits from pleasant physical contact. Touch has been shown to decrease the body’s response to a perceived threat, and therapeutic touch is thought to help manage pain.
Rudd explains that the touch required in partner yoga is not intimate. A good instructor will teach the partners how to use touch to guide each other through deeper poses and adjust one another’s form.
Both instructors emphasize that, for those performing the class with a loved one, participants bond through the poses, laugh lots, and even work through issues. It can increase our awareness of our relationships and teach us trust and communication, both verbal and non-verbal.
Types of partner yoga
There are a few different types of partner yoga classes; however, most programs tend to blend more than one into a class.
Acro-yoga is like gymnastics on a yoga mat—a lot of fun and best learned with an experienced instructor.
Contact yoga (flying) is much the same as acro-yoga, but with more emphasis placed on creating a union between both partners as opposed to maintaining perfect yoga form.
Doubles yoga will have you mirroring your partner, as well as assisting in balancing each other, to create the yoga poses.
Partner-assisted yoga is similar to Thai massage, in that one partner is providing the stretch and traction while the other relaxes and enjoys the stretch.
Partner flow is a series of flowing poses with each partner stretching different areas of their bodies at the same time. Partner yoga poses
To find a partner class or program near you, call and ask your local yoga studio or do an Interet search. Some classes even encourage singles to come out and be partnered up upon arrival. Here are a few poses that you may encounter.
Hip opener and back bend
5 tips when partnering up