Since yoga has been around for centuries, it has naturally evolved and grown over time. As a result, we now have many different types and styles of yoga. And the fact that the very word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the discipline has come to include ‘partner yoga’.
What is Partner Yoga?
As the name suggests, partner yoga is a set of practices and poses that involve two people. By requiring two people to come together and coordinate to execute different yoga postures and poses, partner yoga helps improve communication and build trust, which, in turn, strengthens the relationship between them.
While the most popular form of partner yoga is the couple yoga, it can also be performed with a friend or sibling.
How to Do Partner Yoga – 6 Yoga Poses for Two People
No matter who you are going to perform partner yoga with, here are some poses to get you started:
Basic Partner Yoga Poses
If you are new to partner/couple yoga, it is recommended to start with the following poses and then gradually move to the difficult ones as you get the hang of it and your body gets accustomed to the new practices.
1. Partner Twist
This very simple yoga posture is a great stretching exercise, especially for the back. It is also said to help the body’s natural detoxifying process.
To do the partner twist, sit down on the floor with legs crossed and backs resting straight against each other. Place your hands on the knees or thighs, take a deep breath, relax, and take some time to feel the presence and connect with your partner.
Start by inhaling and raising your arms overheard to stretch your spine. Bring your arms down while exhaling and then twist your upper body to the right, taking your right hand across and placing it on the inside of your partner’s left knee. Your left hand should be placed on the outside of your right knee or thigh.
Your partner should do the same simultaneously. Hold on to this position for 3 to 5 breaths and then untwist your body, bringing it to the natural seating position while exhaling.
Now repeat the same step on the left side.
2. Twin Tree
It can be difficult to maintain one’s balance in a tree pose when you are doing yoga alone. But, it becomes a lot easier and fun when you have a partner to offer you support. Great for stretching and strengthening the spine and legs – from thighs to ankles – the twin tree pose will leave both you and your partner feeling stronger and more rooted with improved posture and balance. It also helps improve focus as well as opens up the hips.
Start this posture by standing straight right next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, facing the same direction. With your feet hip-width apart, slowly lift your outside leg, bend it at the knee, and then place the sole of your foot against the inside of the other leg, either on the lower leg or if you can, on the thigh.
While placing the foot on the inside of the thigh is preferable, do not put too much stress on your muscles if you are unable to do it. Also, make sure to not place your foot on the knee as it will create unnecessary pressure on the joint.
Lift your inside arm over your head and hold your partner’s hand. Bring the other arm in front of the body and hold your partner's hand to offer some support to each other. To make the posture a little more challenging, both of you can lift your arms above your heads.
Try to remain in the position for at least 5 to 7 breaths. Now slowly return to the normal standing position and turn around to face the opposite direction. Repeat the same procedure on the other side too.
Intermediate Partner Yoga Poses
A little complex than the basic poses, but still not too intricate, these partner yoga poses are perfect for those who have been doing yoga for a bit and can comfortably perform the basic poses and postures.
3. Buddy Boat
In addition to being an incredible core strengthener, the buddy boat pose also stretches the lower back and hamstrings. It is also known to help improve the energy level.
To do it, sit down on the floor in a comfortable position facing your partner. Make sure to leave about a half leg’s distance in between. Reach out for your partner’s hand from the outside of your legs and hold them firmly. Now, lift your legs to place the soles of your feet against that of your partner; your knees will be bent at this moment.
Take a few moments to adjust your position and balance and ensure that both of you are sitting on your sit bones (also known as the buttock bones) and not on your pelvis.
Straighten your upper body and then taking each other’s support via hands, start straightening your legs while also lifting them up. Bring your lower back a little in and use your core muscles to maintain the posture. Keep your back as straight as possible.
Hold on to this position for at least 5 to 7 breaths and then slowly bring the legs back to the floor.
It may take you a little time and practice to do this yoga pose perfectly, but it is interesting and playful, so you are likely to have a good time even trying it out.
4. Double Downward Dog
This is one of those partner yoga poses that appear more difficult than they actually are.
It requires one of the partners to carry out a little advance posture, so the one with more experience in yoga or more flexibility should be in the front.
Start with the basic downward dog pose, one behind the other. Now the person in the front needs to slowly lift their legs up, take them over their partner’s back and place the edges of their feet against the partner’s lower back.
Hold on to the position for about 30 seconds or 5 to 7 breaths. To release the posture, the partner who’s below should slowly bend the knees and lower their hips to achieve the child’s pose while the other person brings their feet back to the floor.
The partners can now repeat the pose by switching positions.
Advanced Partner Yoga Poses
|Important: Do not attempt to do these poses if you are a beginner unless you are being guided and supervised by a professional trainer.
Requiring a high level of balance, flexibility, and strength, here are some advanced partner yoga poses for the experienced ones:
5. Flying Bow
To the person on the top, this advanced-level yoga pose helps release stress, elongate the spine, and open up the chest. On the other hand, it helps strengthen the lower body of the person on the base.
To achieve this posture, one person needs to lie flat on the ground, on their back, while the second one should stand straight in front of the legs of the person at the base.
The base person should place the soles of their feet against the hips of the partner. Here, the partners can hold each other’s hands for support and balance. The base person slowly lifts their partner up in the air, releasing their hands and holding the top person’s shoulders instead.
Now the top person slowly bends their legs, one at a time, and holds their ankles with hands while bending on their back to form the bow pose.
If the partners are highly experienced yogis and are able to maintain their position and balance without any support, the base person can let go of the top person’s shoulder to create the flying bow look.
6. Supported Scorpion Pose
An incredibly useful pose for improving your strength, endurance and flexibility, this yoga pose puts your handstands at test.
To perform this yoga pose, one partner takes the downward dog position while the other one stands over them. The top partner should now place their hands down on the floor, behind the hands of the base person, and then lift their legs up while balancing their upper body, on the middle of the back, of the base person. Once in the air, the top person bends their legs backward, from the knees.
Finish the Partner Yoga with a Relaxing Posture
No matter what partner yoga poses you choose to do, make sure to end the activity by coming to a neutral position, either sitting or lying down to let your body relax. Close your eyes and breathe deeply while feeling the moment and the presence of your partner.
Partner or couple yoga offers double the advantages that you get from individual yoga practice. In addition to the health benefits, the discipline is known to offer, partner yoga also strengthens your relationship with your partner, whether it is your sibling, friend, a family member, or your romantic partner. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that partner yoga helps improve both the physical and emotional fitness of both people. So, what are you waiting for?
Get your partner on board, roll out the yoga mat, and get going!