We all know the benefits of yoga on the mind and body. But while these are activities we often do individually, it doesn't always have to be that way. Yoga can be just as enjoyable with two people - you just have to know which moves are best-suited for pairs.
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While yoga promotes feelings of self-empowerment, unity, and community, it is all too often a form of exercise done solo. You’re moving from one pose to the next, standing and bending in solitary formation on your mat. But with partner poses, you can join a friend or loved one in achieving some of the poses that might be too challenging to do on your own.
Most importantly, partner yoga helps to strengthen your emotional bond with close friends and family. This is why many spouses choose to work out together. But you don't have to be married or even dating to enjoy doing partner yoga poses together. Even good friends can find plenty of advantages practicing yoga together.
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Whether you're working out on your own or with someone else, your preparation should remain the same. That means taking a sufficient amount of time to warm up. During this time, you should not only get yourself ready to work out, but communicate with your partner about the poses you want to do together and how you will go about doing them.
Let's start slow. We have simple poses that are easy to achieve and hold for even the most casual yoga participant. We recommend the following poses, which are good options for a partner who may not regularly do yoga or has never done it before, but is curious about trying new things out.
Partner yoga poses don't get any simpler than the forward fold. Start with you and your partner sitting across from one another with legs straight and spread apart. Position the bottoms of your feet against your partner's feet and grab each other's forearms. Start folding forward at the hips while your partner pulls you towards them. Once you're far enough to feel the burn in your hamstrings, hold the pose for two to three breaths. Come back to an upright seated position, and let your partner take their turn in a forward bend.
You and your partner are going to be in the same but opposite position for this pose. You both should be seated cross-legged in front of one another grabbing each other's forearms. Establish an equivalent level of resistance as you each bring the shoulders back, then down. Inhale as both partners lift their heads and puff out the chest. Hold. Exhale and, as you do, each partner should bring the chin to the chest and round the top of the back, to the point where you feel the shoulder blades stretch. Hold for two breaths, and then move from first to second positions repeatedly.
This is one of those partner yoga poses that can do wonders for your balance while bringing yourself and your partner closer together as you rely upon one another to remain steady and upright throughout the pose. Start by standing side by side at the shoulder, keeping your feet aligned with your hips. Keep your inside leg firmly against the floor and be careful, as this will be your weight-bearing leg. Bring up the other leg, bending the knee and securing the sole of that foot against the lower portion of the planted leg or at the thigh. But always avoid placement at the knee as this will place undue stress on it. As for the arms, hold them out in front of you together. You can lift them above the head to provide a higher level of difficulty to the posture.
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Double Downward Dog
This partner yoga posture might take a few tries, but with practice you should get the hang of it. Your partner starts in downward dog while you are positioned in the same direction, placing your hands in front of your partner. Then lift your legs and place your feet against your partner along their lower back. This sounds complicated, but is actually pretty simple. You might try to set both feet on your partner's back from his or her side and then move into position by walking on your hands as you straighten your legs.
Another posture that might take a couple of tries before you really get the hang of it is partner Chair Pose. You and your partner stand back to back and then slowly position your feet ahead while relying on one another for support. The tricky part of this pose is that you have to talk to one another as you squat down into the seated position of chair pose. Basically, you're depending on each other to provide the stability needed to stay upright, making this one of those partner yoga poses that requires a lot of communication.
So how did it go with the first set of poses? Did you and your partner find them to be too simple or were they just enough of a challenge to prepare you for something a little tougher?
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For this pose, begin with both partners facing each other in a standing position. Keep your feet parallel to one another with your toes spread out and your weight distributed evenly. The first partner moves forward into a traditional Warrior 3 position. The second partner does the same. Once both participants are in the pose, they each place their arm around the thigh of the other and hold their partner's calf. Both partners can then press their hips into each other to stay balanced. Remember to come out of this pose slowly by moving the lower legs down first and folding forward before achieving an upright position of the body.
In double plank pose, the first person begins in a standard plank posture. The second puts his or her hands on the ankles of the first and then steps onto the first person's shoulders. There may be some trial and error with this pose before you lock it in as it's supposed to look. If you're having trouble, the first partner can lie flat on his or her back as the second places his or hands on the floor next to the first partner's ankles. From there, the first partner grabs their partner's ankles and positions the arms out straight so the second partner reaches the plank pose.
These are just a few of the many poses that exist for couples to do together. Try these out first to help you get the hang of it, then venture out towards more challenging and complex postures ideal for two.