The Benefits of Partner Yoga
If you’ve tried, you already know that partner yoga gives us a constant source of yummy, effective hands-on adjustments, bringing us into a deeper expression of poses than we can take ourselves. But did you know that for many couples, partner yoga is a key to something much deeper?
I first introduced my man to yoga through the practice of partner yoga. We’ve experienced firsthand how partner yoga can teach communication, intimacy, trust, surrender, problem solving, stillness and much more. And yes, it does make for a great lead to foreplay if you’re so inclined.
It’s true that communication is key to any successful relationship. But what happens when we run out of words? There is only so much we can say to communicate how much we care for someone, how happy we feel, how grateful we are for his or her companionship. Partner yoga gives us the opportunity—through touch, controlled movement, breath and eye contact—to show our partner what we want and need and allows us to communicate just how good we feel.
As we take turns folding forward or back, we can give a slight squeeze on our partner’s wrist when we’re at our edge of the stretch as a quick, compassionate cue for them to stop.
In a forward fold, we can place our hands on their lower back and give them some soft love, stroking our fingertips along their lower back and lightly massaging away the day’s tension. One last deep inhale can cue the last breath in a posture before we come out of the pose, or a slight tap on the arm will let our partner know to raise that arm up. As we become more comfortable with using wordless cues to speak with our partner, we take these powerful tools into our daily interactions.
Over time, these tools help couples to develop a deeper, more authentic understanding in their daily interactions.
I know plenty of women who think that if her partner puts his hands on her in an intimate way, this simple act should ultimately find them in the bedroom. The notion that soft, sensual touch equals sex is immature, insensitive and unfair. In the most extreme of situations, it can stir up feelings of resentment and fear, often a result of one partner projecting deeper underlying issues.
After one particularly special yoga practice with my partner, we both remarked that we’ve never been this intimate with anyone before.
The key is to find a way for couples to look past sensual, intimate touch as a means to an end and instead, simply learn to enjoy and bask in the beauty of showing love and intimacy through physical contact.
In partner yoga, you can connect with your loved one in some of the most intimate ways possible. Sitting back-to-back on the yoga mat, partners can make strong, supportive contact at the sacrum: that flat triangular bone at the base of the spine.
From the ancient Greeks to the Egyptians, to Kundalini yoga and into Western culture, the sacrum has been highly revered as a link between the physical body and our higher spirit. Connecting with a partner in this way teaches support and the simultaneous act of giving and receiving.
As you feel for your partner’s breath on your back ribs and notice their heartbeat behind your own heart, these deliberate, quiet acts of listening have a profound effect on your connection on and off the mat.
Ahh, the honeymoon phase. We’ve all been there before. The sex is hot. Each day seems shiny, brand new. We’re damn near invincible. Then somewhere along the way, we hit a wall. Feelings of doubt, boredom and a longing for something new again start to creep in.
Fact: Couples that try new activities together get a huge boost in relationship satisfaction. On the yoga mat, we indulge in a constant discovery of our bodies. Exploring which poses we need to modify, noticing which ones we love and which postures we’d rather skip (which means we need to do them more).
In partner yoga, we invite another person into this sacred journey of discovery, figuring out how to work with their body and their own limits. It’s a lot like riding a tandem bicycle together—both partners pull equal weight but have a different impact on the ride. The simple thrill of figuring out that one pose feels better when your partner’s hand is here instead of there is fun, nourishing and an easy, inexpensive way to keep things fresh.
Like many yogis, I have a morning meditation practice. A personal, quite time to reflect and clear space for the upcoming day. One morning I woke up and wordlessly sat on top of my man still lying in bed, for 10 minutes. It was one of the quietest moments we’d ever shared and a powerful meditation.
Short of brief silences around the house or in the car, how often do we sit together in silence? In partner yoga, we have a chance to simply be with our partner, our bodies and our breath. It’s a chance to enjoy a peaceful stillness together without the typical mental chatter, a place where we have no agenda or goals. This practice is not a means to an end; it’s a quiet exploration of our partner and ourselves, together.
Art of Compassion, Trust, Surrender, Support
How do you show your love? After a long day, we look to our partner for compassion and empathy. Before a big confession we trust they will still love us, baggage and all. We ask for their support in our new endeavors and surrender to their touch when making love.
Coming onto the yoga mat with our partner teaches us to hone our sensitivities to their own limits, likes and dislikes. We learn to trust that their body will support our own. We move slowly and compassionately, remaining aware of where we both are—physically and emotionally—and never take the other past their edge.
The ultimate act of surrender in a partner savasana teaches us to let go fully together, to touch without action or expectation, and simply enjoy the feeling of two bodies letting go fully and effortlessly.
So grab your mat and your mate and find a partner yoga workshop, DVD, book or online class today. Whether newly dating or fully committed, your relationship could use some yoga practice, too.
Editor: Seychelles Pitton
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July’s Full Moon in Capricorn: The Heart wants what it Wants. The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. How to Love a Woman who Scares You. Our Soulmates are Rarely Who We Expect. I Still Think of You. Men, Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Size Matters. To the One Who Tried to Break Me. An Open Letter to the Fixers. How your Stored Memories in the Amygdala can lead to PTSD. How My Sister’s Death Transformed my Self-Perception.