What is the first image that comes to mind when you think, ‘Yoga’? Most people picture a lone monk sitting bare-headed and bare foot, legs crossed and ankles elevated to deepen the full lotus position. We often associate Yoga with solitude and the desire to delve deeper into our own body, mind and spirit.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, but how about a new spin on a traditional practise? Partnered yoga is exactly what it sounds like; it is yoga for two people. Experiencing the poses with someone else extends the experience and really brings home the whole union idea upon which yoga is based.
Practising with a partner accomplishes many things:
- helps both participants to intensify the poses
- increases the focus on the correct breathing sequences because you have to synchronize it
- makes you more aware of where your own body is because it directly affects your partner and creates a support base for both of you
- establishes trust
- enhances the feeling of mastery because it is vocalized and shared
Alignment becomes even more important because now you have to build a support base for your partner’s poses and as well as your own. Think of it this way; seated twists are an exercise you can use to strengthen your core, improve your spinal alignment as well as stretch your outer thighs and hips. A seated twist alone relies on your own body to create resistance. When you add the advantage of a partner, you mirror each other’s image, each of you using the opposite wrist of your partner to pull a little more through the core and increase the stretch. You bring each other into a little better place. Take a seated forward fold as another example; one partner kneels in front of the other’s feet and using both hands places the fingers underneath the hollow of the armpit with the thumbs on the back of the shoulder. The assisting partner lifts the seated partner slightly and gently pulls their torso forward to lengthen the torso allowing more depth to the fold. The partner who lifts relaxes into child’s pose before the positions are reversed.
Like anything else, it takes practise and the desire for it to work. If you know you are a more of a lone monk and this is your comfort zone, partnered yoga may not be your groove. On the other hand, if you enjoy a new challenge, you may find that the extra support of a partner is exactly what your yoga was missing. You never know until you try.