The month of February is typically the time where we decide to stick with our New Year's resolutions or let them go. While the weather is still cold out we can work on keeping our resolutions by partnering up. Finding a workout that allows you to be close to a loved one will help you find a new excitement for your workout and keep you motivated to push through.
Yoga is typically known as a practice to be done alone. However, practicing partner yoga can help you to bond with a close friend or loved one. Partner yoga can be done in the comfort of your own home. You can use two yoga mats set up side by side, but if you are practicing on carpet you may choose to go without the mats.
Partner Pranayama Practice:
Start your practice by sitting up tall, back-to-back, with the backs just lightly touching each other. Close your eyes and relax the face. Begin to find a steady even breath, not just focusing on your own breath but also tuning into your partners breath and working to match it. It may take several breaths for the two of you to find a steady flow as one. Sit here for 3-5 minutes and allow your mind to let go. Really take some time to just be present with the other person.
Try to keep your breath flowing together throughout this practice. It should be slow and steady. It’s not a race but rather a bonding opportunity. Communication will also be key throughout this practice. Be sure to check in with each other to make sure you both feel okay in the poses and that one person isn’t pushing the other beyond their comfort level.
On an inhalation both partners should reach their arms towards the ceiling. As you exhale both partner's twist to their right and reach for the opposite persons knee, so your left hand will be on your own knee and your right hand will be on your partner's knee or thigh. To initiate the movement one partner can say something like, inhale reach up, exhale twist. On the next inhalation reach up again and on the exhale twist to the left. Your right hand will be on your own right knee or thigh and your left hand will reach for your partner's left knee or thigh. It should feel very natural and comfortable. Go back and forth two or three times on each side and then do it once more but once you get into the twist, close your eyes, relax and breath with your partner for several breaths, repeat on the second side. To finish the pose, inhale reach your arms up and exhale bring your hands together at the heart.
Sitting with your partner, bend your knees bringing your feet flat onto the floor. Push into each other’s backs with equal pressure and try to stand up together, slowly.
Once standing, face each other. Hold hands (palm to palm) and step away from each other the distance of your arms. Continue to hold hands and fold your upper body forward so that the spine is long and the back forms a 90-degree angle with the legs. Allow the hands to reach towards the ceiling. Hold for a couple of breaths and then roll the spine up and face your partner. Practice this pose three times, holding it for several breaths each time. On the final one, roll up and pause for a moment, keeping the breath relaxed and looking into your partners eyes (this isn’t to be cheesy, there is a gazing meditation that allows us to bond with another human when we gently gaze at their eyes for several breaths, it might feel silly at first but if you practice this regularly you will strengthen your bond).
Partner Tree Pose:
Now stand side by side. Both partners will ground through the foot closest to their partner (the inside foot). The outside foot will be the one that lifts up for tree. Your outside hand can start by resting on your hip while your inside hand will reach up to meet your partners hand (palm to palm again) in a comfortable position. The palm-to-palm position of the hands should give each partner extra balance and stability to come into tree. Now lift your outer leg up bending the knee to the outside and allowing the foot to rest on your shin or thigh. Hold for several breaths and build trust supporting each other. Release when you both feel ready, gently bringing the outside foot down. To switch sides in this pose, you can either switch sides, or just turn where you are and face the opposite direction.
*Alternate option: put your arms around each others waist for mutual support.
Partner Forward Fold Seesaw:
Sit facing your partner with the legs spread wide and the feet touching, the legs form a diamond shape. Then hold hands with your partner. Communication is key here. One partner will gently start to lean back pulling the other partner into a forward fold. Be sure to communicate how far forward feels comfortable, and when it becomes too much. Breathe together. Then the forward folding partner will slowly start to pull up and back bringing the other partner forward. Alternate back and forth a few times, nice and slow, moving with the breath.
Take a few moments at the end of your practice to relax together. Move your mats a little further apart so that you have some space. Lay down on your mats allowing the body to completely relax and reach your hand out to connect with your partner. Breathe deep and allow the mind to clear. Focus on your breath. Try to stay here for 10 minutes.