Most of the time you spend doing your yoga practice is all about you. And it should be. Self-love is essential to becoming truly self-less. By taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, you build a wholeness that makes you strong enough to support yourself in your journey toward your own goals. That same strength is what enables you to say an authentic “yes” to others who need or want your help and support as they travel their own paths.
But, every so often, the mat starts to feel more like a desert island than a sanctuary. You end up missing out on one of yoga’s central principles: unity. The Sanskrit word yoga means “yoke,” not in the sense of a burden but in the sense of joining together. You might feel isolated from those you perceive to be the “better” students or that you are pretty much alone in a crowd. Or, you just may want to share the calm and peace that a satisfying class or home practice delivers. That’s why partner yoga can provide a fresh perspective. Whether you are practicing with your honey or your best friend, working with another person helps you change preconceptions about what you can and can’t do. You will have to open your heart and your body to work with someone else. You will have to trust that the person working alongside you will work with you, direct you, support you—and that you will be there to do the same for him or her. And, with the power of two, you can take your practice to places you might have had the confidence to find on your own.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect invitation to share your yoga love—and reap some benefits for yourself and your special someone. Here are some poses to try together:
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Stand next to your partner in Tadasana ( Mountain Pose). Shift your weight onto your inside foot (the one closest to your partner). Clasp your outside ankle with your outside hand. Gently pull your outside foot up until the sole of your foot rests against your thigh or calf (not the knee). Align your pelvis over your supporting foot.
Find your focus about four to five feet in front of you. Wrap your inside arm around your partner’s back and have them do the same for you. Bring your outside arm into Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) in front of your heart, or grasp your partner’s outside hand. Remain in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Release into Tadasana and repeat on the other side.
Parivritta Sukhasana (Revolved Easy Pose)
Start sitting back to back with your partner. Begin with your legs straight out in front of you. Cross your legs and open your knees out to the side. Leave a comfortable space between your hips and your feet. Place your left hand on your right knee and reach your right hand around to your partner’s left knee. Have your partner do the same. Stay in the pose for a least one minute and switch your legs, reaching around with the left hand.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Kneel on the floor. Spread your knees hip-width apart. Sit back and lay your torso between or on your thighs. Place your hands by your sides, palms facing the ceiling. Have your partner sit back to back with you, extend his/her legs straight out from the hips and gently drape his/her back over your back on your exhale. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch partners’ positions.
Poses like this are just the beginning of the opportunities to explore yoga as a way of deepening connection—and just sharing some fun! More studios offer workshops for partnered yoga and, for the more adventuresome, acro-yoga. Also consider a couples massage. Massage isn’t just for athletes and celebrities. It’s an important tool for detoxifying the body and stimulating the metabolism.
So before you head out for a heart-warming meal or savor some deep, dark chocolate, go heart-to-heart on your mats and celebrate what love is really all about.