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When we practice partner yoga, not only can we enhance our ability to relax in partnership, but we also harness our ability to more deeply connect on conscious and subconscious levels. Partner yoga taps into two essential aspects of human expression: body language (which, according to one study from the scholar Albert Mehrabian, makes up to 55 percent of human communication) and our sense of touch, the first of the senses to develop before we are born.
Studies at Loyola University in Chicago have also shown that partner yoga can increase libido. They have even added it to their sexual counseling program.
Set the ambiance for a fun, relaxing partner yoga session by lighting candles, putting on a playlist you’ll both enjoy, and committing to mutually beneficial intentions. A partner yoga practice is about building trust and enhanced communication, so make adjustments and be willing to leave a pose if you both aren’t enjoying it. Let the poses transcend your physical connection by focusing on your breath and eye contact in each pose, let it lengthen and settle, invite the opportunity to synchronize your breath with your partner’s.
“If music be the food of love, play on.” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Start by sitting cross-legged facing your partner, knee touching knee, and tune in with your own breath. Let your eyelids shut. Placing your right hand on your heart, take your left hand and place it over your partner’s hand over their heart. Breathe here and feel the warmth of your hands together. Visualize your partner’s support for your breath and your heart beat in this moment. Place a drop of lavender oil on your wrists to add an aromatherapy element, as it is known for its relaxing and anxiety reducing qualities.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” – William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Take your partner’s wrist, right hand to right and left to left, as they take yours. Explore Cat and Cow pose in the spine. Release the grip on the left wrist and open up to stretch out into a T shape, let your left hand come back and behind you and lean away into the stretch. Fill with your breath here. Slowly, unwind back to center and switch to the other side. As you inhale lengthen your spine from sit bone to crown, as you exhale deepen into the twist.
With the Beloved’s water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved’s rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?
– From Thief of Sleep by Rumi. Translation by Shahram Shiva.
Start in a wide-legged stance (Prasarita Padottanasana) facing the opposite direction of your partner, then step your right foot to line up with your partner’s right foot. Hinge at the hips toward your partner, while you keep your back leg straight. Connect your right finger tips together pointing down toward the ground, lift your left arm up and over your head to connect finger nails and lift your elbow to the sky. Enjoy the stretch. Switch sides.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi
Stand in Tadasana next to your partner, hip touching hip. Bring your outer leg up into tree pose. Your inner arms can wrap around each other’s waist, while your outer arms reach up and overhead. Slowly unwind and try the other side.
“Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move his aides, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Partner Dancer Pose
Stand 2-3 feet away from your partner and enjoy a few breaths of eye contact before your connect your right hand palm to palm and lift up above your head. Sweep your left arm back and behind you as you bend your left knee to grasp your ankle in your hand. Press into your right hand to lift up through this side of the body, as you gently kick your left foot into your other hand to invite a backbend into the pose. Switch to the other side.
I have phrases and whole pages memorized,
but nothing can be told of love.
You must wait until you and I
are living together.
In the conversation we’ll have
– From Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks
Partner Janusirsasana Foot Rub with Oils
Begin in a cross-legged seated pose, extend your right leg forward and bend your left leg in for a relaxed Janusirsasana. Take your partner’s extended foot and begin to give and receive each other’s relaxing touch. Rub plain sesame or coconut oil with a few drops of geranium or rose oil, into the sole of your partner’s foot. Try to mimic the touch your partner is giving. Switch feet.
“I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.
Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
Partner Mudra and Eye Gaze
Start as you begin sitting across from your partner without touching. Take a few breaths here looking into each other’s left eye and holding eye contact. Take a wide baddha konasana, have your partner sit in the diamond seat between your legs and wrap their legs around your hips. Reach your right palm to meet their right palm, place your left hands on top for a double anjali mudra, let your foreheads rest here. Breathe and listen to the sound of your partner’s breathing.
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere,
they’re in each other all along.
– From Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks
Photos, except top, by Deven Sisler featuring Laura Fieberg and Arielrose Jasper.
A senior certified AcroYoga teacher Deven is known for her joyful, playful approach to partnership and collaboration, and her articulate teaching. An E-RYT 200 and CRYT yoga teacher, she has trained with international master teachers for the past 12 years in yoga, thai massage, and acrobatics. An outdoor enthusiast, she weaves her experience and on and off the mat into creative, relaxing and inspiring classes for adults, children and families. Her perspective through the lens of yoga and acrobatics heightens kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness; it cultivates trust, communication and community building. She offers a holistic approach to exploring biomechanics and the subtle body through movement, sound and her training in Body-Mind Centering.