This is the only partner pose that I like to teach.
It’s not that I don’t like partner poses, it’s just that I can never tell if some beginner might get too enthusiastic and his/her partner might wind up with a pulled muscle.
If you follow the instructions, this one’s fairly safe, easy, and accessible to everyone regardless of yoga experience. It requires no special props. (Unless you consider grabbing someone else a prop, but with some basic communication skills, this shouldn’t be too hard.)
So, if you’re in the office, grab a co-worker, kick off your shoes, and come take a walk on the spinal side.
1. Have your partner sit on the floor, with her legs straight. You sit behind her, close enough to have your knees bent.
2. Grab her wrists; she grabs your wrists.
3. Now, making sure that she is comfortable and is not forced to lean back (she should be perfectly relaxed in this seated position, not tightening through her abdomen to keep from falling back), place your feet on either side of her spine. Not on the spine itself, but on the muscles lining each side of the spine (this is what perispinal means).
4. Begin to walk your feet, one at a time, up and down on either side of her spine. Check in with her—does she want more of the ball of your foot (gentler, more spread-out pressure) or more of the heel (deeper, more concentrated pressure)? Take your time, taking little steps slowly all the way up to her shoulders (again, be sure you’re not making her lean back; sit closer to her, if in doubt) and all the way down to the her bone area.
5. I can’t emphasize enough that you need to be aware of your partner’s comfort. This is not so much about how much pressure you put on your feet (she needs to be vocal about it if she wants more pressure or less) than it is about not pulling your partner back so she’s not relaxed. Notice how upright (and relaxed) professional yoga model is in the illustration. Ask if your partner is comfortable, and adjust if needed.
6. Repeat the slow walking process for 2-3 minutes…or until your partner melts. Then switch! It’s your turn!
Benefits: Great release of the entire back in a way that beats many of the things you could do on your own. Also, you actually get to talk to the people in yoga class…or in the cubicle next to yours. Plus, you’ve displaced the time you would be on Facebook with actual contact with another human being…what a concept!
Avoid if: If the receiving partner’s shoulders hurt when holding each other’s wrists, the pose as a whole may not work. Or avoid if the receiving partner’s back hurts in any way (try using more of the ball of the foot for a gentler version of the pose and see if that helps). The main thing is, this should feel 100% good and 100% enjoyable. If you can’t wait for it to be over, then something’s wrong with the setup (read instructions aloud to one another as you follow them) or your body is just not suited to this angle or pressure.
Final Thoughts: If you did grab a co-worker, be assured that this is the only instance in which it’s okay to let a co-worker walk all over you.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise