Partner yoga has had various incarnations over the years. Lea Kraemer of Prana Mandir who has been teaching for twenty years has seen it go in and out of fashion. One of the most recent incarnations that you may heard of is the registered trademarked AcroYoga which blends Sun Salutation and standing poses warm-ups utilizing a partner’s touch and weight, followed by flying and therapeutic Thai Yoga massage.
In general partner yoga allows you to support and receive while in a posture. It cultivates touch, allows you to stretch more deeply using the body weight of another person, brings about greater understanding of the body, and heightens one’s sense of union and community.
And, of course, it can be a lot of fun.
Here are a few basic poses to try:
Partner Yoga Pose 1
Partner A would start in a Child’s Pose
Partner B would be bring the base of their sacrum to the base Partner A’s sacrum, bend their knees, lift their hips up and lie back on Partner A’s spine. Partner B can bring their neck slightly to the side to avoid putting too much pressure on partner A’s neck.
Partner A gets an intense forward bend while Partner B gets an intense backbend. For both partner’s this helps warm up the muscular-skeletal system.
Partner Yoga Pose 2
Partner A sits in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) and brings their hands back behind their hips opening up the heart area.
Partner B sits a little less than leg length behind partner A. Partner B bends his or her legs into a variation of Navasana with the legs bent and presses his or her feet into Partner A’s back. The heels would sit around the kidney area (lower ribs) of Partner A’s back on either side of the spine. Partner B would grasp Partner A’s wrists and pull them back behind them.
Partner A gets a delicious shoulder opener and back massage. Partner B gets to do some supported abdominal work.
Partner Yoga Pose 3
Partner A will lay on the floor in Savasana.
Partner B will support Partner A’s knee and ankle joint with his or her hands and bend Partner A’s right or left knee into tree pose. Coming into Anjaneyasana, Partner B can then using his or her body weigh to apply pressure with his or her palms to Partner A’s inner thighs
Partner A gets to release body tension by being supported by the floor in Savasana and releases any tension in the inner thighs. Partner B opens up his or her hips in Anjaneyasana.
Partner Yoga Pose 4
Partner A will lie on his or her back with legs at ninety degrees. Partner B will stand with their feet close to Partner A’s hips. Partner A will bend their knees, turn their feet out slightly and place them a little above the folds of Partner B’s hip crease. Partner A and B will interlace each others fingers and Partner B will start to lean their body weight forward and as they do so Partner A will straighten his or her legs to ninety degrees. Partner B will release their whole body in a forward bend and hang over Partner A’s feet. Partner B’s legs will be straddled and it helps to keep the feet flexed.
Partner A gets to strengthen their core by holding up a person by their full body weight. This also stretches the hamstrings. Partner B gets to use gravity to release back tension and bring fresh oxygen blood to the brain by being inverted. And of course any flying posture is great for confidence whether you’re the base or the flyer!
Partner A and B stand back-to-back with their arms interlaced. Partner A will get ready to lift Partner B over their back. It’s important that Partner A’s buttocks align with Partner B’s buttocks. Partner A will bend forward on an exhale and lift Partner B onto their backs. Once comfortable both partners can let go of their arms. Partner B can let their arms dangle for a more intense backbend.
Partner A gets an intense forward bend. The body weight of another person will help to lengthen their spine and stretch out their hamstrings. Partner B gets an intense backbend without have to put pressure on their wrists and ankles as one would in Urdhva Dhanurasana.
photo credits: The first two Thai Yoga photos are from Thai Yoga Massage by Kam Thye Chow and the second two are from Partner Yoga by Cain Carroll and Lori Kimata.