Partner yoga incorporates complementary yoga poses done by two people whose poses support opening and relaxation in one another’s poses. You might run into parter poses during a regular yoga class when your teacher asks you to partner up, or you might attend an all Partner Yoga class. Acro-yoga takes Partner Yoga to new heights - quite literally sometimes! You can play with Partner Yoga at home, finding new and fun complementary poses with your kids, spouse and friends.
Partner yoga poses can be very simple and satisfying. Try facing your partner and reaching opposite hands out so you shake in the middle. Now both partners lower hips into a low squat while gently leaning back in a balanced manner. You’ll find you’re able to go a little farther and that you’ll feel the pose - Garland Pose - differently than you have in your individual practice.
You might show up to a class and have your teacher announce a partner section by having you pair up. To ward off any anxiety that this surprise may engender, choose a partner with similar stature and strength and seek out someone with more partner yoga experience than you have. Be clear and precise with your communication. Give and ask for feedback about pressure, touch and distance with clear yes/no answers and questions: “Would you like more pressure?” “Have I applied enough pressure?” “That’s far enough.” “More stretch, please.” “Stop.”
A simple Partner Yoga pose for class might be Warrior 2 facing away from one another and holding back hands. To set up you’d place your mats short end to short end and each create the foundation for Warrior 2 facing away from one another. As you lift your arms to shoulder height to complete the pose, you’ll reach back and hold hands, offering a beautiful check, and effective corrective where it’s needed, to the tendency to lean forward in Warrior 2.
If you arrive with your own partner, this is a choice opportunity to practice mindful communication and is a creative, healthy date! Often we struggle to catch up with our partners and Partner Yoga provides an excellent opportunity to catch up in every way. Partner Yoga increases your possibility for stretching, support and for levitation. Partner Yoga also provides a meditation on intimacy, communication and respect. Think of it as a mini-adventure where your partner and you play as if you were both jungle gyms!
Acro-Yoga takes Partner Yoga to the next level and its hallmark is that one partner is fully supported off the ground by the other partner. The “base” partner is usually, but not always, on his or her back with legs and arms extended in a sort of fallen Staff Pose. The “flying” partner then balances on the bases hands and feet in various poses. Advanced practitioners can move seamlessly through and entire practice this way, one pose to the next, with only the support of their partner. For Acro-Yoga, consider taking a workshop or specified class to get started.
These classes often begin with participants sitting in a circle in Easy Pose, knee to knee. Then each person reaches out and places their hands on their neighbors’ shoulders, intertwining arms. Exhaling, everyone leans back and receives both stretch and support from the interlocking unit formed by the group.
A simple base-flying pairing is called “Falling Leaf” and the base partner lies on his back with his legs bent to begin so his partner can make contact. The flying partner stands in Mountain Pose with the front of her legs facing the back of the base partner’s legs and folds forward. The base partner’s feet settle into the flying partners leg creases. As the base partner extends his legs, the flying partner extend hers and they end up in interlocking “L’s” with the flying partner receiving a tremendous spinal extension and the base partner firm grounding for his femurs. You might want to try this with lots blankets in the room the first time!
You can pair nearly any yoga poses and learn different things not only about your own body but about the pose and your partner by playing complementary roles and exploring the relationships between poses.