5 Partner Yoga Poses to Inspire Connection

woman doing yoga together

So, you’ve discovered the joy of yoga. Now it’s time to spread the love! Grab a good friend, a co-worker, your lover, that guy in yoga class you’ve always wanted to meet, your kids, a neighbor (you get the idea, it could be anyone), and try doing some yoga poses together.

Todd Walton writes in the book Open Body, “Yoga for two gives us a wonderful opportunity to merge our intentions and move beyond barriers we’ve discovered in our aloneness. Yoga for two bodies is also yoga for two spirits.”

Make sure you and your partner are on the same page by asking some of these check-in questions before, during, and after the practice:

  • Does that feel okay?
  • Is that too much pressure?
  • Is it okay with you if I touch your knee?
  • Is it okay if I touch your arm like that?
  • How does that feel for you?
  • Do you want any more intensity?
  • How was that for you?

Being open-minded, openhearted, and willing to go with the flow makes this practice interesting and fun. Boundaries, ground rules, and clear intentions also ensure that the experience is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

The possibilities of doing yoga with a friend, lover, child, or parent are endless. Get creative and enjoy the company! Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Sit Back-to-Back and Breathe

partner yogaThis is a great place to begin. As you sit back to back, you’ll establish a connection without having to look at your partner (which can be vulnerable and awkward at the start).

Benefits:

  • Back support as you sit in meditation.
  • Relaxation and breath awareness through Pranayama.
  • A sense of well-being, pain relief, and comfort being touched.

Try it:

  • Sit back-to-back with your partner.
  • Come to sit comfortably. Cross your legs or put the souls of your feel together. Prop yourself on a blanket or bolster if your hips are tight.
  • Breathe together for a few moments just noticing how it feels to breathe with another person.
  • After a few moments, sync up your breathing: try breathing in together for three to five seconds and then out together for three to five seconds.
  • Continue like this for five rounds of breath.
  • Finish by sitting quietly in meditation for a few breaths and then checking in verbally.
  • An alternative option: This requires a bit more focus. Sync up by alternating inhales and exhales. As you inhale, your partner will exhale and vice versa. Your inhale is your partner’s exhale and your exhale is you partner’s inhale.

2. Sit Back-to-Back and Twist

partner yogaThis is an add-on to the seated back-to-back breathing.

Benefits: 

  • Builds strength in the spine as you move it in the twist left and right.
  • Massages and stimulates the digestive organs as you twist.
  • You can use the leverage of your partner’s knee or thigh to twist deeper than you would on your own.

Try it:

  • Sit back-to-back with your partner.
  • Come to sit comfortably. Cross your legs or put the souls of your feel together. Prop yourself on a blanket or bolster if your hips are tight.
  • Breathe together for a few moments to sync your rhythm.
  • As you inhale, sit up tall and extend your arms up or out to the sides.
  • As you both exhale, both partners twist to the right.
  • Place your left hand on your own knee or thigh and place your right hand on your partner’s knee or thigh.
  • Sit up taller on your inhale, twist deeper on your exhale by using the leverage of your partner’s leg.
  • Check in with your partner verbally.
  • Stay for three to five breaths and then return to center.
  • Repeat on the second side. Twist to your left.

3. Lean Back and Fold Forward

partner yogaThis pose gives one partner a deep hamstring stretch and the other partner an opening of the chest.

Benefits:

  • In the forward fold, you can stretch farther with the assistance of your partner’s body weight resting on you.
  • In the heart opener, you can lean into the support of your partner’s back, open up, and receive a rush of energy.
  • Breathing together helps both partners relax into their poses.

Try it:

  • Sit back-to-back with your partner.
  • One partner bends their legs with their feet on the floor. This partner leans back gently. This partner can enjoy a front body and chest opening.
  • The other partner extends their legs in front of them. This partner folds forward gently. This partner can enjoy a hamstring stretch.
  • Check in verbally.
  • If the partner folding forward desires more intensity, the partner leaning back can press into their feet and increase the pressure.
  • Breathe together for three to five breaths.
  • Release out of the pose slowly and switch roles.

4. Wide-Legged Side Stretch

partner yogaAs you turn to face your partner in this pose, enjoy some eye contact and smiles.

Benefits: 

  • Hamstring, adductor, and hip stretch for the legs.
  • Stretch from the low back through the shoulder on each side of the body with the support of your partner to go deeper.
  • Stretch of the intercostal muscles between the ribs for increased breath capacity.

Try it:

  • Sit and face your partner.
  • Both partners extend their legs as wide as they can to the sides.
  • Connect your feet with your partner’s. If your partner is considerably taller or more open than you, place your feet just inside their ankles and give them a little push open.
  • Reach towards your partner and hold onto their right wrist with your right hand. Both partners start with the right hand.
  • Get a nice grip, straighten your arm, and lean back, supporting your partner.
  • Reach your left arm up alongside your ear and lean to your right. Both partners lean to their own right side.
  • Breathe together for three to five breaths.
  • Pull gently on your partner’s arm to help them up.
  • Switch hands and repeat on the left, this time holding left hand to left wrist and bending to the left.

5. Partner Tree Pose

partner yogaStanding balances are more fun with friends!

Benefits:

  • Increased focus and present moment awareness.
  • Bone strengthening through weight bearing on the standing leg.
  • You may be able to hold the pose longer with the support of your partner.

Try it:

  • Come to stand side by side with your partner.
  • Put your arms around each other’s shoulders or waist, depending on your height relative to your partner.
  • Both partners ground down through the foot of the inside leg, the one closest to your partner (you’ll be standing on opposite feet).
  • Turn the outside leg open so your knee points to the side.
  • Bring your foot into Tree Pose by touching your foot to your ankle, calf muscle, or upper inner thigh. Avoid placing your foot directly on the knee joint.
  • Bring your free hands together at the center or overhead.
  • Breathe together for three to five breaths.
  • Release gently and repeat on the other leg.

Bonus Pose

This is a crowd favorite courtesy of the wonderful, playful teacher, Pete Guinosso. Even if you don’t have time for any other pose, do this one at least once a day.

Benefits: 

Try it:

  • Stand facing your partner.
  • Stretch your arms open wide.
  • Take a step towards your partner.
  • Wrap your arms all the way around your partner.
  • “Hug-asana!” 

Enjoy the company of Deepak Chopra, Chopra Center master educators, and  like-minded individuals to get creative with your yoga and meditation practice at our signature retreat Seduction of Spirit. Learn More.


 

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About the Author
woman smiling in yoga pose

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression...Read more