Have you ever tried yoga with a partner? Your best friend or someone you met at the studio? A lot of times, yoga is considered a solo activity.
For example, I do yoga when I am tired and need to stretch my body out for better sleep, when I have menstrual cramps, when I am in a terrible mood, when I am trying to think a decision through, etc., almost always at times when I need to be by myself.
This is because, essentially, yoga is a practice that involves movements, breathing techniques, and meditation, all of which require a good amount of concentration from you.
Partner yoga asks for a new skillset: clear communication, cooperation, and awareness of others. The good thing about partner yoga is that there is a level for everyone, just like regular yoga, so that no one is left out. Therefore, everyone from experienced yogis to beginners can have some fun with partner yoga.
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Benefits of Practicing Partner Yoga
Here’s why these BFF yoga poses might be beneficial for you.
1. Deeper connection
The first and most important thing in partner yoga is trust. Your partner might need to lift, raise, or hold you. And without absolute faith in their abilities or your abilities to have their back, you might not be able to maximize partner yoga to achieve the poses you would like to create.
Thus, partner yoga increases trust and closeness between partners and friends. If you and your BFF or S/O can achieve certain poses, you just might be able to walk through things life would throw at you together.
2. Better communication
The backbone of partnerships is communication. In partner yoga, you and your partner need to communicate with each other constantly. It involves acute sensitivity to each other’s verbal and non-verbal communication.
For instance, what is the other person thinking, does it hurt somewhere, do they need a break, do you want to try something again, what are your fears about a pose, and how can they alleviate it. Research shows that many couples and friends who regularly participate in partner yoga record a spike in better communication with each other.
3. Accelerates balance and posture
Here’s the difference between regular yoga and partner yoga; with partner yoga, you can depend on your partner to achieve a pose with little to no pain. Your partner can also serve as a yoga teacher to point out the areas you need to work on, giving adjustments and support. Partner yoga understands that everyone has a different body structure and that some people can achieve certain poses better than others.
It leverages this difference in body structure to help both parties improve at and achieve poses they otherwise would have difficulty doing alone.
I got better at yoga when my BFF and I started doing yoga together. She’s much better at it than I am, but she was a mirror of some sort, pointing out errors in my poses and what I was supposed to do about them for better balance and alignment.
4. Excellent bonding activity
I find that the best part of partner yoga is the fun. Think fun and zero embarrassments. You won’t get all the poses right; you might need to be constantly reminded about breathing techniques, and who better do that with you, validate you than your BFF or S/O? My BFF and I always laughed so hard at our epic fails, celebrated successful poses like we won the grammy, and had so much fun taking videos.
We joke about showing everyone before and now videos when we grow up and are much better at yoga.
As earlier stated, there is something for everyone in partner yoga. We will go through 12 partner yoga poses from Beginner’s level to Intermediate to Advanced. So grab a mat and your partner!
1. Twin trees
This pose is excellent for balance and posture, and with partner support, it’s easier to master. You and your partner should stand hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder, with your feet apart. Next, raise your inside arms and rest your palms against each other’s, then lift your other legs slowly, bend them at the knees and rest your feet against your inner thighs.
Finally, bring your other arms towards each other, interlock your fingers and practice breathing techniques to focus on your stability. Inhale and exhale slowly as you focus on stability.
2. Seated spinal twist
This is perfect for back pain; it stretches your spine and relieves spinal tension. Sit back to back with your partner, cross your legs, breathe in, then gently twist your body around to reach for your partner’s knee and breathe out when you breathe out.
3. Double standing forward fold
This pose stretches your hamstrings. Stand back to back with your partner, either with your legs wide apart or firmly together. Bend your body from the waist, make sure your knees are locked, and bring your faces to your knees. Extend your arms backward and hold on to your partner’s arms.
4. Chair pose
Here, you and your partner stand facing each other, feet apart, and hold hands for support and stability or stand backing each other and interlock your arms. Then with your backs straight, slowly bend your knees and squat like you are about to sit and then hold.
5. Warrior III
There is no rush with this pose because it requires some simultaneous movements. Stand 4 feet apart and face your partner. Slowly bend forward, raise one leg behind you and simultaneously extend your arms forward.
Grab your partner’s hands or arms and bend till your torso is parallel to the ground. Keep your eyes on the floor. In addition, you and your partner should use opposite legs for stability.
6. Partner boat pose
This pose is a real challenge on the core and hamstrings. First, sit opposite your partner with your legs bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Make sure your toes are touching. Then, firmly hold hands and slowly raise your right legs till the soles of your feet are pressed together.
Do the same for your left legs. Make sure your legs are straight, and your weight is resting on your sit bones, not your pelvis. Both of you should make a W when set. It is vital to take deep breaths and slowly exhale while you are in this position.
7. Double dancer
This pose works on your core, glutes, and hamstrings. It could be challenging doing the dancer pose alone; it’s way more manageable with a partner. Start by standing 2 feet apart from your partner.
Then raise your arms forward till you and your partner’s palms meet and grab your ankles. Afterward, slowly bend at the waist and raise your legs higher and higher. Finally, continue to shift your palms towards each other’s shoulders till your legs have gone as high as possible.
8. Partner backbend
Stand facing your partner toe to toe. However, if your lower back is tight, consider doing this pose feet apart, but if you are flexible enough, keep your feet together. Lock onto each other’s arms, keep your legs straight, breathe in and breathe out as you bend your torso backward till your chin points to the sky.
9. Partner one-legged wheel
Partners should lie on their backs with their hands planted beside their ears, fingers facing their feet, and feet on the floor. Knees and feet should be the same width apart. Then they should raise their bodies into the wheel pose – an upside-down U, toes touching. Afterward, they should raise their opposite legs to the sky with their heels pressed against each other.
10. Double plank
One person starts in a plank position, and the other person places their hands on the ankles of the base partner or either side of the base partner’s ankles. Next, partner two places their legs on the shoulders of the base partner.
11. Flying warrior
This pose requires a lot of quad strength from the base partner and more than enough trust in your abilities. The base partner will lie flat on the floor with their knees bent and their legs raised.
They press the soles of their feet against the abdomen or pelvis of the second partner who is on top. Then, the base partner slowly straightens their legs, lifting their partner. For better balance, both partners could hold hands till the second partner is wholly raised and stable. The second partner also needs a steady core to maintain balance.
12. Chair and Mountain
Here, partner 1 does the most work. They go into a chair position, lean back, and extend their hands forward. Then, partner 2 climbs up on partner 1’s knees, one leg at a time grabs partner 1’s wrists, and both partners lean away from each other.
You have it—partner yoga for BFFs and couples. Remember, you are building a connection and having fun at the same time. It’s not a competition. In addition, switch places with your partner for poses that put more strain on one partner than the other.
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