We humans are by nature highly social beings who need compassionate connection with others for optimal health and well-being. Touch nourishes us on every level of our being, and is as essential as air, food and water. It also provides soothing support for our nervous systems while connecting us physically and emotionally to others. Loving touch and interrelatedness becomes even more vital during stressful times such as a pandemic.
The Partner Yoga Difference
Partner Yoga provides healing, nourishing touch and so much more. It supports us in opening more deeply in our postures and in our lives.
Oftentimes those who have previously felt intimidated by a yoga asana are able to find their way into the practice through the nurturing qualities that Partner Yoga provides.
Being connected to others while in posture also helps quiet our overactive minds and emotions that can become especially activated during stressful times.
Practicing With Intention
Principle-Based Partner Yoga, the style we are practicing in this sequence, incorporates universal themes such as compassion, surrender and trust. This foundation acts as an intention for our practice. Simply holding these ideas in our awareness while we practice deepens our experience.
While ideal for intimate partners, Partner Yoga can offer nourishment for all of our relationships—friends, family members and anyone seeking increased well being.
Partner Yoga, while not a substitute for individual practice, works synergistically with a solo practice. It brings depth and potency to both practices.
Creating an Amazing Partner Yoga Experience
Here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind as you explore the following flow created by Elysabeth Williamson, founder of Principle-Based Partner Yoga™ :
- Stay as relaxed as possible. Granted, this is not always easy when learning something new. The more relaxed and embodied we are, the more life force flows and the more nourishing the practice becomes.
- Tune into to how both you and your partner are receiving the posture.
- Stay rooted in your own energy while remaining connected to your partner.
- Remain present as you move from one posture to another, creating a moving meditation.
- Practice kindly expressing your needs and edges. Clear, compassionate communication is an important key for a great Partner Yoga experience.
- Most of all, have fun and enjoy your practice. Let your body and intuition guide your practice more than specific instructions.
Back-to-Back Sacrum Connection
This is the foundational pose in Principle-Based Partner Yoga, and the ideal starting position to begin your practice.
This practice is best experienced as a powerful connection between sacrums. It is important to not lean on our partner but focus on the firm connection between the sacrum bones.
- Begin in a back-to-back seated position with your partner. Lean forward, gently arch your back, and shift your pelvis back. Now reach your sitting bones for your partner’s sitting bones. )You can shift your buttocks flesh away from your sitting bones if that helps you locate your sitting bones.)
- Slowly sit upright and align your torso on top of your pelvis.
- Draw your shoulder blades together to help you lift your lift sternum, making sure you are not leaning your upper back onto your partner. If necessary, shift your upper body forward to avoid leaning.
- Bring your awareness to the connection between this sacred bone. Direct your breath into this connection. If you feel leaned on, gently tap your partner’s hips to remind them to keep their sternum lifted.
- Feel the support of both your partner and the ground. Relax deeply to receive this support more fully. Notice how your partner’s presence supports you to feel your own being.
Variations: You can incorporate props to support your knees. You can practice this pose on a backless bench if one or both partners have knee issues.
Partner Pranayama from Sacrum Connection
Partner pranayama from a solid sacral connection is a beautiful way to attune to the subtle qualities of the breath while deepening your connection with your partner. This practice can be profoundly meditative and supports us in learning to quietly rest while connecting to another.
- Begin by tuning in to the flow of your own breath. Next, tune into your partner’s breathing.
- Imagine breathing into and out of your sacrum, deepening your connection to the earth and to your partner. Notice the quieting effect the breath and support of your partner have on your mind as you bring your awareness deeply into the body.
- An excellent variation to this practice is for both partners to lift their arms, thumbs facing upward, raising and lowering arms while synchronizing breath and movement. This movement opens the side bodies and fully engages the lungs.
Forward Bend and Backbend From Sacrum Connection
Partner Yoga amplifies the energy of our postures. Observe how the mind naturally quiets in this forward bending position and the heart more easily expands when being supported in the backbend.
- Find a grounded, connected, back-to-back sacrum connection. The partner who will be backbending releases their head onto their partner’s back.
- The partner who will be forward folding now lengthens their spine to fully support their partner’s back. Leading with your sternum, extend your torso forward, continuing to support your partner’s head. The backbending partner drapes their torso over their partner’s back. The backbender can use a prop to support their head. The forward bending partner can rest their head on a prop or on their own arms.
- Breath and relax. The forward bending partner allows the weight of their partner to release and open your pelvis. The backbending partner receives the support of your partner’s back to lift and expand through their heart center.
- Slowly come back to center. Switch roles.
Back-to-Back Seated Spinal Twist
Twists have a balancing effect on the right and left hemispheres of the brain while strengthening and detoxing our digestive organs. Allow the presence and support your partner to bring you into balanced alignment and a deepened twist.
- Still sitting back to back, reconnect your sacrum with your partner. You can do this by leaning forward and gently arching your low back.
- Both inhale, and on an exhale, both partners gently rotate their torsos to the left. Each partner places their right hand onto their left knee. Place your left hand onto your partner’s right knee.
- Stay firmly rooted in your lower bodies and keep your spines aligned. Use your arms as leverage to deepen the rotation of the spine to the left.
- Each partner turns their head fully to the right to release neck and shoulder tension. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Slowly release, realign at center. Repeat on the other side.
Partner Upavistha Konasana, variation (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
This wide legged flow and fold activates the liver, kidney, spleen meridians and can be emotionally stimulating. It provides a mirrored backbend, forward bend, side stretch and twist. Practice compassionate acceptance, being exactly where you are, releasing any impulse to push or force yourself or your partner to go deeper.
- Both partners sit facing each other with their legs in a wide V-shape. Keep your feet flexed, toes upright, and the edges of your feet in contact. Both partners cross their arms and firmly grasp their partner’s opposite wrist. Begin to extend strongly through the backs of your legs and heel bones, allowing this movement to widen the pelvis. Simultaneously, root your sitting bones and tailbone while lifting your sternums, widening your collarbones, and releasing your shoulder blades away from your ears.
- Create gentle traction by continuing to actively root your pelvic bones and heels, while lifting your sternums and leaning back into your back bodies.
- Both partners release their right wrist hold. Now lean away from your partner while gently rotating your torso to the right side. Place your right hand on the floor or alternately lift your arm to shoulder height and reach straight back.
- Stretch your right arm straight up in line with the right side of your face. Root both hips firmly down, and stay strong in your lifted arm as you both lean your torsos back into a gentle backbend.
- Both partners lean their torsos toward their left legs to flow naturally into a deep side stretch. Stay rooted in the lower body. Breathe deeply to support the energy lines to flow freely. If it is a strain for either partner to reach for the foot, simply extend the right arm straight up, reaching toward the ceiling.
- Come back to center slowly and switch sides. At the end of the second side, each partner takes a turn folding forward, bending their knees as needed. This allows the stretch to move from the pelvis to the legs.
- Release the pose slowly, shake out your legs, and give your partner a smile.
Partner Foot-to-Foot Savasana, (Corpse Pose)
This is a deeply grounding and restorative practice and can work as a stand alone practice to enjoy with your partner.
- Lie on your backs. Both partners bring the balls of their feet to touch. Resting on your forearms, bring the elbows as far back as possible, widening your collarbones.
- With knees bent, draw the navel back, tuck your tailbone slightly to lengthen your spines as you ease your torsos onto the ground.
- Slowly and firmly extend the legs, focusing on pressing your heels into your partner’s heels to create a solid connection.
- Allow your feet and legs to naturally turn out into a comfortable position.
- Notice how the sole to soul connection supports you in resting and releasing tension. Stay as long as desired.
We all long to simply be listened to, without the need for any response. Sharing gratitude openly and honestly brings us into harmonious and compassionate connection with others.
- Resting awareness in your heart, take turns actively sharing and receiving what you feel most grateful for regarding your partner in the moment.
- Fully receive your partner’s appreciation while honestly sharing your own.
- Complete your practice with a hug. Feel the joy of intimacy with others.