There’s no doubt about it partner yoga has a definite Marmite effect in class – people either really love it or loathe it. No matter, there are very positive gains to working with someone when studying a posture. I like to do it in several ways in class –
- Working Together for Support
Observation and Encouragement are ways to see what a posture looks like from the outside rather than the inside. When working with a fellow student you are able to see just how the posture goes together and to see the challenges that they are facing. By verbal encouragement we really are giving important feedback which they simply cannot get any other way.
Adjustment/Awareness is brought about by getting involved a little more closely – using your hands or feet to bring awareness and develop the posture to a deeper level.
Finally, working together for support is really where we are taking the role of a prop – an intelligent one mind you!
If you are someone who likes partner work I have suggested 4 exercises below to work with AT HOME – maybe with your partner/husband/wife or a friend. Be very careful if they do not practice yoga already! Yoga can be helpful in bringing people together it certainly helps us to appreciate the challenge of postures and that we are not alone in our endeavours!
Back to Back Breathing
Sit back to back with your partner, legs straight out in front (or bent at the knee if that’s more do-able). Close the eyes and begin to breathe more deeply, the base of the spine and shoulders should be touching. Be here for some time (5 minutes +), both observing how your breath is and how your partners is. Feel the warmth and support of this seated position – two hearts beating together. After a while you may notice that your breathing synchronises.
Partner Assisted Back/Forward Bend
When you feel sufficiently warm, you can try this out – don’t expect to get too far. The back bender will bend their knees on inhalation and then, as you both exhale gently lean back into the support of the forward bender. Relax and enjoy the sensations. Stay for 5 – 10 breaths. Agree when to come up, and in unison, breath in and return to the upright position. Swap roles so that you both get a chance to do a forward and backward bend. You may like to do it again 🙂
Partner Assisted Seated Twist
If it’s going well, why not have a go at another posture? One of my favourites actually. Change position so that you are sitting facing each other and cross your legs so that the knees touch. (If this is out of the question, you could try to work in a wide legged seated posture – or maybe standing up.) Both stretch out the right hand to the partners right side waste. Using the left hands both reach around the back to hold the partners right hand. This will entail some twisting motion but you can deepen the twist by leaning outward as you exhale. Go gently!!! Take 5 – 10 breaths and then untwist back to the upright forward facing position. Repeat stretching out the left hand to the partners left side waste etc.
Well you have got this far, so why not try the double boat? Looks rather fancy doesn’t it? You will need to back off a little from each other – hold hands and scootch back a bit until your arms are straight. Now, bend the knees and place the soles of the feet together (it does help if hubby takes his shoes off – but if he won’t it still works). Breath in and then as you exhale begin to straighten your legs. Smile and breathe (or giggle and collapse). Great work – how do you feel now???