Check out these ten trust-building Yoga poses for two people!
Yoga is generally a pretty solitary activity. Sure, we get together in group classes, and we might have friends we know through yoga, but usually, your practice is seen as being personal and private. You’re not supposed to look at other people during class; you’re not supposed to talk. Yoga is what happens on your mat. If it ain’t on the mat, it ain’t yoga…right?
In traditional philosophies of Yoga, the relationships you have with other people, with your family, and with your community, are just as important as your physical and contemplative practice. Building trust, goodwill, and empathy between yourself and other people is central to the ethical precepts of yoga known as the Yamas.
Similarly, in Buddhism, the Sangha, or spiritual community, is seen as being one-third of the “Triple Jewel.” The three pillars of awakening. That’s because being a good friend and having the support of the community create the conditions in which the deeper spiritual qualities of Yoga are possible.
More and more, the feeling in modern yoga environments is that you roll in 5 minutes before class, get your yoga fix, and then get the heck out of there. Partner Yoga proposes a solution.
Break out of the four corners of your mat and create an atmosphere of trust and empathy with another person in the best way possible, by supporting each other’s yoga practice!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with focusing mainly on your practice. Actually, we encourage it. It’s just that every once in a while, it’s a good idea to break out of the mode and challenge your patterns and assumptions.
Plus, it’s a healthy and fun way to bond with your romantic partner! Yoga date night, anyone?
So let’s explore some yoga poses where it takes two to tango!
Partner Yoga Pointers
Before we launch into the poses, it’s a good idea to discuss a few important tips to keep things safe and enjoyable for both partners involved.
1. There is no perfect pose
When we do yoga by ourselves, we often try to fine-tune and perfect our alignment. We can sometimes push ourselves out of our comfort zone in the pursuit of the perfect pose. This doesn’t work in partner yoga.
Remember that different bodies have different capacities and different proportions. Your body will likely not move in the way your partner’s body moves, and the different lengths and widths of your various body parts are bound to create asymmetry in the poses. Consider this a creative tension — a way to experiment to have the pose serves the needs of both of you.
2. Communication is key
In Partner Yoga, it’s important to suspend the usual yogic rule of “no-talking.” When you’re practicing with another person, it is crucial to talk.
Remember that your partner doesn’t know what’s happening in your body. If something feels uncomfortable or painful in any way, make sure to say so and discuss ways of changing the pose to accommodate you. Likewise, if your partner tells you to ease up or stop what you’re doing, then do what they say as immediately as you can.
3. Keep things clean
Unless you know the other person very well, it is important to not wear scented products or moisturizing products on your body when you’re practicing in such close quarters. Lots of people have allergies, and it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Moisturizing products can make things slippery and in certain poses, can compromise their stability and safety. Leave your skincare regimen until after your practice.
Lastly, it should go without saying that all touch must be appropriate and consensual. If you are in doubt of whether something is appropriate, ask, and if the answer is no, stop doing it immediately.
10 Top Yoga Poses for Two People
1. Seated Breathing Practice
This one’s easy to set-up, but as we all know in Yoga, sometimes the simplest poses are the most challenging. Simply sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back to your partner.
Begin to take long, deep breaths and feel your partner’s breath as it interacts with your own through the contact of your bodies. It may be possible to synchronize the breath, but it’s not necessary. Simply be aware of the effect your partner’s breath is having on the sensations that arise in connection with your breath and try to slow down the breathing to a rate that is deliberate yet comfortable.
Pay attention to the full length of the inhale and the full length of the exhale, noticing the space between each inhale and each exhales. You can do this for as long as you both feel comfortable. At least 5 minutes is recommended to experience the full benefit.
2. Seated Partner Twist
In a cross-legged position with your back to your partner, reach back with your right hand and hold your partner’s left knee. Place your left hand on your right knee and enjoy a gentle twist from the base of your spine. Your partner will do the same and will twist in the same direction as you.
As you inhale, extend the head towards the ceiling, and as you exhale, deepen the twist. Allow your partners back to support the pose and encourage your spine to stay tall in the lower back.
Hold for 1 minute and repeat on the other side.
3. Supported Boat Pose
This version of Navasana provides some support so that it can be held for a longer period and emphasize the stretch of the hamstrings.
Begin by sitting facing each other with your knees bent and your toes nearly touching, roughly hip-width apart. Take hold of the hands of each other at the wrist.
One at a time, lift your legs and place the bottoms of your feet together. Gradually straighten your legs as much as possible. Once in the full expression of the pose, focus on opening up the chest and extending through the spine, keeping the chin level.
Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
4. Partner Plank
Some partner poses are intended to make the postures they are based on easier to perform, but not this one! This one takes the traditional plank and turns it up a notch.
One partner will lie on their back in a supine position while the other stands over them with their feet on either side of the supine partner’s chest. The standing partner will place their hands on the floor on either side of the supine partner’s legs.
At this point, the standing partner will slowly reach their legs back one at a time to be caught and held above the ankle by the supine partner who will then extend their arms up towards the ceiling, allowing the standing partner to enter a lifted plank position.
For an additional challenge, try to hold the plank with your hands on your partner’s shins. The added instability will make it even more of a core workout!
Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
5. Forward Fold/Supported Backbend
This one kills two birds with one stone by allowing one partner to take a deep supported backbend, and the other partner to get a gentle squish in their forward fold.
This one will take a bit of negotiating to get into comfortably. The easiest way to enter it is to sit in Staff Pose, with your backs touching and your legs out in front. Both partners will reach overhead and take hold of the hands of each other.
One partner will fold forward while the other partner lies down over the natural curve of their back, held in place with the grip of the forward-folding partner’s hands. The back bending partner may need to bend their knees a little bit to enter the pose comfortably but can begin to extend their legs once in the pose.
Hold for at least a minute and then slowly release, repeating the pose but switching roles.
6. Chair Twist
This one’s a real quad buster!
Simply stand facing each other a little more than an arms width apart. Reach out, grab each other’s opposite hands at the wrist. Then, simply lean back and reach your free hand towards the back of the room. Use the weight of your partner to support you as you sink into a deep twisted squat.
Hold for as long as you can stand it!
7. Supported Warrior Three
You may need to try this a few times to get the distance right, but once you get it, it’s pretty straightforward.
Standing a little more than arm’s length away from each other, come into a standing forward fold with your arms reaching out overhead and your back straight. Your trunk should stay parallel with the floor.
Place your hands on your partner’s shoulders and get them to do the same. Gently press into each other’s backs to allow the shoulders to open. Make sure not to bonk heads!
Once you’ve enjoyed this supported forward bend for a few moments, both partners can lift their right leg off the floor, driving the heel up towards the ceiling while keeping the leg as straight as possible. Make sure to keep the hips level; try not to allow them to open up to the side.
Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
8. Downward Dog Supported Handstand
Now we’re getting into some slightly trickier territory. If you’re working on hand-balancing, this can be a really helpful exercise. The hand-standing partner needs to be able to confidently hold a plank for at least 30 seconds before attempting this.
Your partner will simply enter Downward Facing Dog while you stand with your feet on opposite sides of their arms. Place your hands on the floor in front of you and then very slowly and carefully place one foot, and then the other, onto your partners back. Walk up to their back so that your feet are pressing gently into their lower back, helping them to deepen their Downward Dog.
Once in the handstand, try to bring your hips over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hands as much as possible.
Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat, this time switching roles.
9. Thigh Stand
This one’s a bit tough, so it’s a good idea to have a couple of mats or a spotter around if you want to try it for the first time.
Stand facing each other and take hold of each other’s arms just below the elbow. Both partners will lean back until your weight is completely counterbalanced. Spend a few moments getting used to the balance.
Now the flying partner will place their leading foot on the base partners thigh just above the knee with their foot turned out about 45 degrees, once again find the balance here.
Now while maintaining the counterbalance, after a count of 3, the flying partner will smoothly step their other foot on to the base partners’ other thigh and then lean back into the full thigh stand. At this point, you can allow the hands to slowly slide down the arms until you are holding the hands of each other at the wrist.
Carefully dismount the opposite way you entered.
10. Bird Pose
This one’s a basic staple of the Acro Yoga world. It’s pretty tough, but most people with normal mobility will find it accessible after practicing it a bit. In Acro Yoga, the partner on the floor is always referred to as the “base,” and the partner in the air is always referred to as the “flyer.”
The base will lie down on their mat, and the flyer will begin facing the base at the end of the mat. The base will place their feet on the flyer’s hips, and the flyer will show the base where the most comfortable spot is.
The flyer and the base will clasp hands as the flyer begins to lean into the base’s feet. The base will bend their knees as much as they need to bring the flyer parallel with the floor, and as the flyer’s feet lift off the floor, the base will straighten their legs. The base feet should be stacked directly above their hips.
Both flyers and bases will keep their arms straight. Once the pose is stable, you can play with releasing the hands, but only if both parties are completely comfortable.
That got tough quick!
Just remember that Partner Yoga is supposed to be a fun bonding experience. So if you fall or flop over or just generally look ungraceful in any of these poses just laugh it off and get on with it!
Try out these poses with your friend or significant other and let us know what you think!