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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

PARTNER Yoga Poses

by Graham Fowler

Partner yoga poses deepen self-awareness and awareness of others. As with any yoga practice, remember that slowness enhances awareness and prevents injury. Listen to your body and come to the amount of stretch that feels good.

Some warm-up is recommended before trying these partner poses. Be gentle. It’s a partnership, not a competition.

Principles Explored

Deepen presence to self and other through breath, touch and sensation.

Build trust, improve communication and tune in to each other.

Props: yoga mat, blanket, yoga block (all optional).

Get Centered

Models: Kelly Daniels and Andrew Housley. (Sarah Trulove)

Sit back to back in a comfortable crosslegged position. Close your eyes and come to the breath. Notice how your body moves as you breathe smoothly and deeply. Feel your partner’s body moving also with the breath. Bring your hands together at the center of your chest. Follow the breath in toward your center. Feel gratitude for this shared experience.

Parivritta Sukhasana: Seated Partner Twist

Models: Kelly Daniels and Andrew Housley. (Sarah Trulove)

  1. Place your left hand on your right knee. Reach your right arm behind you and place your hand on your partner’s left knee. Inhale; sit tall, not stiff. As you exhale, pull your lower belly in and twist to the right. Start gently.
  2. Breathe consciously and feel what’s happening in your body. With each inhale, lengthen. With each exhale, feel into your body. You can twist further or you can back out slightly.
  3. See if you can sense your partner’s experience. You can use each other as yoga props, exploring the pose together. Your breathing might even come into sync. Feel the rapport. Hold for 10 slow, deep breaths or as desired.
  4. Come back to center and sit for a few breaths, allowing the energy to circulate. Repeat the pose on the other side. Then stretch legs and prepare for the next pose.
Vrksasana: Tree Pose

Models: Laurie Grenier and Charlie Garcia. Graham Fowler

  1. Stand side to side, 1 or 2 feet apart. Hold your partner’s waist with your inside arm for stability.
  2. Bend your outside knee and place the foot on the inner thigh. Use your outside hand to pull the foot up to a comfortable level between knee and groin.
  3. Reach your inside arm up and touch palms with your partner, or just extend the arm up. Then bring outside arms to the center and touch palms together in prayer position. Feel how pressing together all four hands brings stability.
  4. Bring both feet to the floor and release out of the pose. Repeat on the other side. For balance, gaze at something in front of you that isn’t moving.

Baddha Konasana: Bound Angle Pose

Models: Kelly Daniels and Andrew Housley. (Sarah Trulove)

  1. Sitting back to back, join the soles of your feet together. Reach back and place your hands on your partner’s knees or inner thighs near the knees.
  2. Sit tall. Lift your waist out of the tops of your hips. Begin gradually pressing your hands into your partner’s legs to enhance their stretch. Keeping your heels together, open the insteps of your feet as if you’re opening a book. Be sensitive to the sensation in your legs. Avoid knee strain. Ask your partner for, and give feedback on the desired amount of stretch. Lengthen each exhalation, releasing unconscious contraction in the inner thighs.
  3. If your thighs are on the floor and you desire a deeper stretch, place a yoga block between your feet, either lengthwise or widthwise, for the desired stretch.
  4. Feel the energy of each exhale right where the stretch is felt the most. Send gratitude and love to your organs of reproduction and elimination. Hold for 10 complete breaths or as desired, with emphasis on the exhalations. Then sit cross-legged for a few breaths while your body and mind receives and integrates the results of this pose.
Paschimottasana/Salamba Urdhva Dhanurasana: Seated forward fold/ Supported upward bow

Models: Kelly Daniels and Andrew Housley. (Sarah Trulove)

  1. Sit back to back. The first partner goes slowly into a forward bend. The second partner leans back into the first partner. Stay present to even breath, and slowly move deeper into your pose.
  2. Move with compassion for self and other. If both partners are comfortable, the second partner can place feet on the floor and lift hips up, placing sacrum on the first partner’s sacrum. This helps stabilize and protect the first partner’s low back. Move slowly and gradually, checking in with your partner as you explore deeper levels. Only go as far as both people feel comfortable.
  3. If appropriate, the second partner can go into a deeper backbend. Maintain solid contact with the sacrum/lumbar areas for support and safety. The second partner reaches back and maybe takes hold of the first partner’s feet. Hold for 10 breaths, or as desired.
  4. The first partner slowly comes up; the second partner slides down the first partner’s back until both partners are again sitting upright. Cross legs, sit and feel the effects of this sequence for a few breaths then trade roles.
Parivritta Sukhasana Seated Partner Twist Variation

Models: Kelly Daniels and Andrew Housley. (Graham Fowler)

  1. Sit face to face, cross-legged. Both partners’ knees touching. If knees don’t align, one partner sits on a folded blanket. Bring your right arm behind you.
  2. Reach diagonally across with your left hand, taking hold of your partner’s right hand.
  3. Inhale; sit tall. Exhale and begin to pull with your left hand, supporting your partner more deeply into the twist. Sense where you feel your partner is in the twist. If you feel openness, gradually take the pose deeper. Try synchronizing your breathing with your partner’s; be sensitive to ebbs, flows and shifts in the energy. Then come back to center for a few breaths, allowing the energy to circulate before going to the other side.
  4. Sit facing your partner. Bring your hands to your heart in silence. Bow to the light in your partner and then sit for a minute or take savasana. Feel how the entire sequence continues to bring benefits as you rest. After resting, sit and share your experience: What insights came from your practice about your life? Your yoga? Your relationship with your partner?


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