The magic of partner yoga

Connection, openness & presence: the magic of partner yoga

Graham Fowler

Like “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence,” the words “partner yoga” may seem contradictory. After all, most yoga practitioners find their time on the mat to be deeply personal. In the busy-ness of life, we sometimes leave behind someone very important–our own self. The yoga mar brings a sense of peace, wholeness … of coming back home.

Since we live in the world, we also want to share and experience that peace with others. Yoga in tandem with a friend, lover, or someone you just met can be incredible. These questions will help you decide if partner yoga is for you.

Who should do it?

From novice to advanced yogi, partner yoga may be for you if you’d like to unfold your heart, unclench your body, undo effort, unguard, shine as love’s light, open deeper, trust, offer your deep presence, breathe fully, feel outward, be alive … and have fun.

What happens in a partner yoga workshop?

At least two things happen: supported poses and shared poses. Supported poses involve one partner gently supporting the other in a yoga pose with the teacher’s guidance. This way, the person supporting does so with minimal effort, and the person in the pose can dive into the experience. With support, you don’t have to think so much of “doing it right,” thus freeing you to be more present at a deeper level.

Often, coming out of a pose, both the helper and the doer have a glow on their faces. It’s hard to tell who was in the pose and who was supporting. Giving or receiving? That’s the magic of partner yoga.

In shared poses, both partners enter into the pose in a way that each becomes a “yoga prop” for the other. As one goes into the pose, it enhances the other’s experience of the pose.

What should I bring?

Two main ingredients create a magical partner yoga experience: intention and presence. Bring a yoga mat if you have one and a partner, if you’d like. Or you can come single and alternate partnering with other people who show up by themselves.

Intentions are personal, but include having fun, going deeper into the poses, introducing a friend to yoga, and letting go of stress. One may wish to connect spiritually with self and others, to deepen intimacy with a partner, or simply to experience yoga in yet another way.

Partner yoga structures presence with the self, and presence with others. That’s one of the greatest gifts you can give, and partner yoga is a very powerful way to give and receive presence. More than a conversation between two bodies, partner yoga is a conversation between two souls.

Is partner yoga real yoga?

Yoga means integration, union. Strangely, one of the deep gifts of solo asana practice–the poses themselves–can be an impediment to yoga. Yoga scriptures called it pragya-paradh, the mistaken belief in separation. Partner yoga can provide a sublime antidote. It is an absolute delight to feel your partner–their body, the movement of their breath, the warmth, the sense of oneness (yoga).

Partner yoga is a sale place to explore deeper than the poses, revealing a truth that is deep in the body, leading to a clearer sense of self. Interacting with a partner in the pose brings new challenges and nuances, requiring you to make adjustments to accommodate the other body’s size, shape, and degree of flexibility.

Partner yoga engenders silence, presence, openness, sensitivity, cooperation, balance, ability to laugh, humility, confidence, and willingness to face challenges: all good qualities for a healthy relationship with a partner, a friend, or the world.

Seated Partner Twist

SIT CROSS-LEGGED, BACK-TO-BACK. Much shorter partner sits on yoga blanket(s). Sitting tall, feel back-to-back contact. Put your left hand on your right knee. Reaching to the right, put your right hand on, of near, your partner’s left knee.

INHALE; lengthen; feel the support of your partner’s back against yours.

EXHALE; slowly twist to the right, gradually spiraling up from the base of the spine. Breathe from your depth, gradually bringing the twist up the torso with exhalation.

LENGTHEN. SOFTEN. FEEL OUTWARD. Pause whenever you of your partner feels the impulse. Feel sensations and energy flows with each other as you move into deep presence. Open and feel, inside and outside, your body, your being, your partner. Feel all, deep and wide as you can.

TOWARD THE END OF THE TWIST, LENGTHEN, hold the breath, then exhale, turning your head to the right and moving fully into the twist.

TAKE A COUPLE OF BREATHS to come out of the twist. Sit and feel the energy circulate. Repeat on the other side.

Graham Fowler, founder of Peachtree Yoga Center, will lead a Partner Yoga workshop for novice through advanced on Saturday, February 14, 10 am to 12:30 pm. During February, all newcomers to ongoing classes get in free with food or clothing donation for the hungry. Call 404-847-9642, visit or email for info on classes and upcoming teacher training.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Natural Arts

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