The physical benefits of practicing yoga are the first and most obvious results that beginners experience. As we progress and become more experienced, we begin to find more of the spiritual and emotional benefits of yoga as well. Many of the deeper benefits that come from practicing yoga deal with connections. It helps us to strengthen the connection between mind and body; between ourselves and our surroundings; and the connection we feel to other people and all living creatures. In fact, the basic definition of yoga is union, and you can use yoga to actively strengthen your relationship with your partner.
While individual yoga helps us to connect with ourselves and our surroundings, couples yoga can build a stronger connection with another individual. Similar to Tantra, couples yoga deepens the practice by including a lover, partner or friend in poses where breathing and moving cooperatively are the key. This helps to build trust and communication as well as providing the traditional physical benefits that come from yoga.
Especially in our modern age where we are so wrapped up in technology and productivity, it is easy to lose our connections with other people. This is one reason why activities such as this that require physical human contact can have such a huge impact. Physical activities and physical contact help to strengthen our relationships and are absolutely necessary to our wellbeing as social creatures.
Couples yoga emerged into the mainstream consciousness several years ago and has since grown into its own independent practice. There are classes for partner/couples yoga, books written on the subject and online resources dedicated to providing poses and instructions on doing yoga with a partner. While there are endless possibilities for beneficial poses you can do with a partner, we have found four that are particularly great for beginners to couples yoga and that we believe can have the biggest impact on your relationship. The following couples poses provide a fun and healthy way to strengthen your connection with your partner through yoga.
Before You Begin
Before you jump into the couples poses, start with some relaxed partner breathing. This will help to open the heart and connect with your breath while providing a gentle way to connect with your partner.
- Sit with your backs resting against each other, with your legs crossed at the ankles or shins and your hands rested on your thighs or knees.
- Notice how the breath feels as you inhale and exhale, taking special notice of how the back of your rib cage feels against your partner’s.
- Begin to alternate breathing with your partner; as he exhales, you inhale and vice-versa.
- Continue to do this for three to five minutes, allowing yourself to feel the connection with your partner.
Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
- Begin in the same position as the partner breathing, with your backs against one another
- Inhale as you reach your arms upwards, lengthening your spine as you reach.
- Exhale as you twist to the right, bringing your right hand to the inside of your partner’s left knee and your left hand to the outside of your right thigh or knee, with your partner performing the same movement.
- Hold this for three to five breaths.
- Exhale, untwist and repeat the same motion to the opposite side.
- Face each other in a seated position.
- Extend your legs out to a wide V-shape with your kneecaps facing straight up and the soles of your feet touching.
- Inhale and lengthen up through your spine.
- Exhale as one person folds forward from the hips and the partner sits back, keeping the spine and arms straight.
- Stay in the pose for five to seven breaths and allow yourself to soften into the pose.
- Release each other’s arms and bring your torsos upright.
- Repeat in the opposite direction, with the other partner folding forward.
- Begin from a standing position, each facing the same direction and standing a few few apart.
- Bring your palms toward each other with the arms in a T-shape, or draw your elbows and palms together in a cactus shape.
- Shift your weight onto your right foot as your partner shifts his weight to his left foot.
- Draw up the opposite leg into a tree pose by bending the knee and bringing your foot to your calf or inner thigh of the standing leg.
- Hold for five to seven breaths then release.
- Turn to face the opposite direction and repeat on the opposite side.
- Begin in a standing position, facing each other.
- Step feet under hips and inhale, then extend your arms overhead and begin to hinge forward at the hips until you meet hands with your partner.
- Slowly fold forward, bringing your elbows, forearms and hands so the rest against each other’s.
- Rest your weight against each other and release chest and belly toward the floor.
- Hold for five to seven breaths
- Slowly walk toward each other, bringing your torso upright and releasing your arms down.