Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Partner Yoga?

Partner yoga has been a popular trend in yoga and like most of yoga, can be many different things depending on the class and the teacher. For most of us partner poses in a regular yoga class can be quite intimidating, always wondering who you will be paired up with and whether you can trust a class mate if you don’t know them. What if they don’t know what they are doing and hurt me? What if they smell? As a yoga teacher, partner work in teacher training workshops happens fairly regularly, and I must admit it has always led to personal anxiety on my part for the mentioned reasons above. Partner yoga with random strangers (even with fellow yoga teachers) isn’t always fun.

Partner yoga with your mate or partner is a completely different matter. Issues of trust, and smell are known, and therefore you can go into the poses relaxed and have a good time. Doing yoga with someone you know and love is a great way to stay motivated and interested and is really fun. It is a positive way to introduce yoga to someone you care about, especially if that person has fears of taking a beginners class on their own. It is also a great way for the experienced practitioner to go deeper into the poses or to maximize stretches and work on more challenging parts of the practice, such as inversions or back bends.

For me, the ultimate date night has always been to get a sitter for the kids and take an evening yoga class with my husband and get a bite to eat afterwards. I must admit that it is really not his idea of the ultimate date. Although he has taken a beginner series and knows the basic poses, he does not find it fun or interesting to take a class with me because it may be too hard and he doesn’t want people to notice him. Doing partner poses together has been a great way to get him to do yoga and a time when we can do something together and laugh a lot. Partner poses work for each individual even if the partners are not at the same level or have different body types and limitations.

I teach the basic standing poses with partners’ backs toward one another and some facing each other. The partners’ bodies support each other and holding of hands allows each person to reach their own individual stretch in the pose. Basic twists and balancing poses are done together as well. Working together you are able to reassure and correct alignment in the poses and to really go deeper into the stretch. It requires listening and watching the other person so you know their limits and their needs. It is a fabulous way to reconnect to one another and allows each person to relax to their deepest level. One of my favorite partner poses (and a favorite of my husband’s) is partner massage in child’s pose, where the partner’s back is extended and lengthened by holding onto the other’s ankles, while enjoying a back massage. There are also breathing exercises, that when done together allow you to focus, and tune into one another by synchronizing the breath.

Learning partner poses with your partner can really jazz up your home practice, or maybe even motivate you to start to a home practice because you have someone encouraging you along. Once you learn the basic poses that can be done together, you will be able to structure your own partner practice and have a date night in the privacy of your own home!

Written by
Renee Davis, Yoga Instructor
Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

1 comment:

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