One of the best ways of cultivating intimacy in a relationship is by spending time together doing something you love—especially when it’s an activity that builds trust and opens new channels of communication. So why not make this the year you and your sweetie try partner yoga? A study in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy by Jim Carson, a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, and his wife, Kimberly Carson, a yoga therapist, suggests that couples who practice partner yoga are more content with each other and report more joyful sex lives.
Familiar poses take on new life and promote a different level of awareness when practiced in tandem. “In partner yoga, two people come together to create a single pose,” says Cain Carroll, a yoga teacher and the author of Partner Yoga. “It’s almost like the pose has its own body, its own energy flow.” Many couples that attend Carroll’s partner yoga classes comprise one experienced practitioner and one newcomer to yoga. Carroll urges experienced yogis not to coach their partners, and he cautions beginners not to try to do a pose the same way that the more experienced partner does: “Couples assume they have to do the same thing, but the posture is where you meet, not whether you have the same level of flexibility,” he says.
Just be prepared to bring all of your relationship to the mat, where partner yoga can challenge your willingness to depend physically on your partner. If you think of yourself as the strong one in the relationship, you might be comfortable lifting your partner but less comfortable when it comes time to let your partner lift you. Says Caroll, “When your skill or strength levels don’t match up, how you respond and how you work with your partner to bring the pose together can be enlightening.”