Need to spice up your relationship? Forgo the chocolates this Valentine’s Day and go for some real, hands-on action with partner yoga. (You thought we were about to get all “rated R,” didn’t you?)
On one level, partner yoga is about using each other’s bodies — whether you’re a couple or just fellow yogis — to help deepen your poses and to assist each other with more complicated poses. On another level, partner yoga can help deepen the bond of your relationship on a physical and spiritual level. By synchronizing your breath and working with the yogic technique of Dhristi (gaze), you can strengthen intimacy, love and sex in your relationship.
A pose as simple as Baddha Konasana can bring you closer to your partner, said Jessica Bellofatto, founder and director of KamaDeva Yoga. Sit back-to-back with your partner, with the soles of your feet together and your knees apart, in the yoga position known as cobbler’s pose. Close your eyes and feel your back pressed up against your partner’s back. (One of you can sit up on a cushion if there is a big height discrepancy.) See if you can begin to synchronize your breath with that of your partner, inhaling together through the nose and exhaling together through the nose.
“Even though you are not facing one another, this pose can be very intimate, as you are lining up your central energy channels, along which the chakras are located,” Bellofatto explained.
Watch this short video to visualize the pose:
Another partner pose that opens up intimacy is the “Lover’s Straddle.” Turn and face each other, in a wide-seated straddle position. Touch your feet against each other, and sit up with a long spine. Reach out and hold hands with your partner. Keep your eyes open and begin to gaze into your partner’s eyes. Try synchronizing your breath with your partner’s breath. You can also try exhaling as he/she inhales and inhaling while he/she exhales, all the while keeping your gaze on each other’s eyes.
“Feel the energy exchange that takes place and the intimacy of simply looking your partner in the eye for several minutes,” Bellofatto said.
Here’s a quick video of a single straddled yoga pose to help you visualize it better:
Partner poses help strengthen your trust in your partner. Elysabeth Williamson, yoga teacher and author of “The Pleasures and Principles of Partner Yoga” wrote: “Partner yoga practices … reveal the beauty of our interdependence. We see that when we take the risk to become vulnerable in the presence of another, we are empowered to go much deeper with much less effort. This is also true in life. We can accomplish much more, with much more joy and ease when we (willingly) support each other.”
With the partner’s Savasana (aka corpse pose), one of you come to lie in final relaxation, on your back. Starting at the head and working down to the feet, the other can give a massage to the neck, the hands and then the legs and feet, using some delicious smelling essential oils. Take turns giving and receiving massage.
Check out AcroYoga, an acrobatic type of partner yoga in which one person is the base and the other is the “flier,” twirling, weaving and “flying” above the base partner. It’s an advanced practice that mixes traditional yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage. The base is the strength and balance, allowing the flier to move their body in new ways. Thai massage comes into play when the base gives the flier an inverted aerial massage while the flyer hangs passively. The base uses gravity, stretching and sensitive touch to open the flyer’s upper body. When the flyer comes down, they do massage on the base’s legs.
Warning: This can be a dangerous practice if not done properly. Make sure to attend a class and learn the foundations of AcroYoga before trying it on your own. Safety first!
Watch the pros do it: