Mandy

First version posted on 18 November 2018

Recent research by the University of Ottawa found that couples participating together in a yoga practice reported having a novel connection experience unlike anything they had experienced before. This novel connection experience appeared to occur when couples engaged actively together, in a body-based manner integrating different aspects of self, that required them to interdependently collaborate, creating together what neither could alone.

Partner yoga is great for developing and deepening relationships.

Couples or partner yoga is, quite simply, a unique yoga practice where two individuals work together in specific two-person poses. These poses, much like traditional yogi practices, range from beginner to advanced – there is an option for any duo!

Through connecting the breath to the pose with your partner, physical benefits are achieved (again much like traditional yoga), but relationships are also deepened and developed. It is important to note that this practice does not have to be romantic in nature, a common misconception that I’ve encountered as a yoga instructor and student. Find a loved one, a new friend, or someone you’d like to get to know better and get on the mat together!

Benefits

Getting right down to it, partner yoga has numerous benefits (surprise, surprise) both for you, your partner, and your relationship with one another (a trifecta)!

Increased feelings of trust: Yoga is a practice that involves feelings of vulnerability, especially as we turn our gaze inward and participate in self-reflection. That inner dialogue has been found to help relationships become more mindful, calm and accepting, as well as more genuine and intimate (Kramer, Insight Dialogue). By taking part in this experience with a loved one, you are taking purposeful steps to be more mindful of your own vulnerability with yourself, and with others. This practice and development of being vulnerable helps to increase feelings of trust within your relationship.

Work on your communication: When moving through your partner yoga practice or pose, both verbal and nonverbal communication is used. Using both verbal and nonverbal communication may be new in your relationship. Approaching this new situation mindfully increases an individual’s ability to read nonverbal cues [research]. Through this understanding of your loved one, better communication will occur off the mat and transfer into your relationship. Communication is such a crucial aspect to relationships, trying out partner yoga may be a great way to develop it!

Decreased stress: This is a one-two punch, first of all we all know that yoga has great powers to decrease stress, and secondly having your partner/loved one with you magnifies this drop in levels of stress. Working together in a collaborative fashion, these poses become a lot more than just moving your bodies in synchronization. Rather, these poses create energy, increase mindfulness, and decrease emotional stress facilitating relationship outcomes.

According to this study, partners who showed higher mindfulness during a conflict with her loved one, had quicker cortisol recovery when their partners demonstrated negative behaviors. In addition, a partner’s mindfulness was related to greater emotional regulation strategies and empathy in the relationship.

Increased overall relationship satisfaction: Trying out this new (and possibly challenging) activity together is great for developing and deepening relationships. Taking the time out of each of your busy schedules to try out something new signifies to one another how much you value the other person. Sharing this physical, emotional, and meaningful experience is great for any kind of relationship.

Poses to Try Out

Couples/Partner yoga has been super popular lately and is a great way to share your passion for yoga with loved ones! Below are a few of my favorite partner yoga poses, so grab that special someone/friend and try them out!

Partner Breathing: If you’re new to the whole partner yoga craze start by trying this simple seated pose that focuses on the breath. Take a comfortable seated position so you and your partner are resting back to back. Place your palms on your legs and plug into your breath. Notice how your breath feels within your body, and how you may feel your partner’s breath with your body. Start to alternate your breathing with your partner so when you’re inhaling they are exhaling and vice versa. Continue this at your leisure.

Tandem Boat: Begin by taking a seat facing your partner. Slowly begin to bend your knees up towards your chest, once you have found a stable base reach for your partner’s hands. Bring the heels of your feet to your partner and slowly begin to straighten your legs to make a “V” with your body (or a “W” between you and your partner) – and just hang out for as long as you and your partner want!

Twin Trees: Start by standing comfortably next to your partner, noting how you already feel connected to the floor and earth with your feet. Facing one another (please stand about two to three feet apart for safety – trees may fall) bring your palms to heart center as you start to stand on your left foot, bringing your right foot to rest on your left ankle, shin, or thigh (avoid the knee joint). Once you find your center begin to blossom your arms up, maybe even reaching for your partner’s “branches” (arms) if you feel comfortable. Stay here for about five to seven breaths. Repeat with your other leg as the “trunk”.

Partner yoga can be a great way to deepen a romantic relationship, friendship, or any other relationship that is meaningful to you! If taking a class/workshop seems too daunting for either you or your partner, start small. Try just doing one pose a day for 5-7 breaths, or even once a week (whatever your schedule allows for). As long as you’re being safe, and mindful of your partner’s ability level, partner yoga is a great resource to utilize within any and all of your relationships!

Have you ever done a couple’s yoga class?

Do you have any favorite poses that you and your partner break out during stressful times? Has your partner started to love yoga even more than you do? Have any tips or tricks for the newbies to partner yoga?

I can’t wait to read all of your responses and comments!

Taking time to practice yoga with loved ones is a great way to bring a positive habit into other’s lives. Thanks so much for sharing, it really means a lot to me and our yogi community!

Thank you for reading today’s post, I truly hope this post helps to make partner yoga more understandable and accessible!

Mandy

Occupational Therapy student Mandy Fabry always had a passion for yoga. Trading in her traditional role as a student to begin her journey as an instructor and blogger. She projects an air on lightness and celebrates each body, breath, and movement. Her background not only nourishes the physical body, but restores the soul as well. Appreciating the body as a whole is Mandy’s main focus, and will bring awareness and balance to all aspects of your life. She is excited to take this next step with you, and hopes that the benefits and lifestyle of yoga can be accessed by all.