As someone who came into yoga in midlife with a bum shoulder and stiff knees, I was already impressed with the yoga poses I see other yogis twisting into.
Then I discovered partner yoga.
My level of wonderment has grown to a much greater level as I see not one, but two yogis holding incredible yoga poses TOGETHER.
As in, balancing in unison. Mind blown.
In this article, we will explore yoga poses for two people, the benefits, things to consider if you want to give it a try, and offer some couples yoga poses that are great for beginners along with some challenging partner yoga.
What is partner yoga?…
Partner yoga, often referred to as acroyoga, is a physical practice that combines yoga poses and acrobatics.
It can be a way to improve your fitness level, or you can simply do it because it’s fun!
It can involve two or more people (whaaat???), one of which is usually lifted by the other.
Usually, yoga poses for two people includes at least one “base” (the person who stays on the ground and lifts their partner) and at least one “flyer” (the person performing at the top).
There are also some partner yoga poses that rely on participants counter-balancing each other or both staying grounded.
More advanced variations of partner yoga often calls for another role called the “spotter”.
Their job is to guide the flyer and the base safely into their couples yoga poses and to be there in case something goes wrong.
I would need multiple spotters, I’m pretty sure.
While partner poses in yoga can be more physically demanding than a more traditional yoga practice, it can be adapted to accommodate various levels of skill, fitness, and health conditions.
Interested in training to become a yoga teacher online? Check out our post on online yoga teacher training!
Benefits of partner yoga…
Yoga poses for two people require excellent communication before and during the practice, which could translate into other aspects of your life and make it easier for you to express the way you feel (physically and emotionally) and set boundaries with other people.
Meaning, it can help your people and communication skills.
Physical benefits of yoga poses with a partner
A lot of yoga poses with a partner revolve around creating balance, whether the pose requires one person to float on top of the other, or for two yogis to counterbalance one another.
As we age, we often find it challenging to maintain our sense of balance, so a consistent practice of partner yoga improves your spatial awareness.
Holding yoga poses for couples that require balance builds core strength and improves the function of stabilizing muscles around your joints (e.g. hip flexors, shoulder girdle).
Since many yoga poses for two people involve the base holding the flyer up, the base strengthens their arms and legs, and adds muscle definition.
The flyer is often required to maintain a particular body line, which activates their back, core, glute, and leg muscles.
Mental & emotional benefits of yoga poses for couples
One of the main emotional benefits of partner yoga poses is the way it generates trust between the base and the flyer.
You and your yoga partner must rely on each other and communicate effectively to be able to keep it together.
Another notable upside of trying yoga poses for two people is the way it can build confidence in both yoga partners.
Acting as the base makes one feel strong and needed.
The flyer, on the other hand, often ends up feeling supported and safe.
Working with your yoga partner in such close proximity could have a positive effect on your interpersonal relationships.
If you find it difficult to connect with people (i.e. conversation, sports, social gatherings), partner yoga could hone the skills needed to help you make friends or build trust in existing relationships.
In a romantic relationship, yoga poses for couples can be a wonderful way to create a physical connection outside of sexual encounters, and make both partners feel trusted and supported.
Who should my yoga partner be?…
Trying out yoga poses for two people with your significant other can be wonderful in many ways.
However, there is no rule that says partner yoga poses are reserved solely for people in an intimate relationship!
Perfecting partner poses in yoga could be a great hobby for two friends to share together, a fun pastime for siblings, and a lovely bonding activity between a parent and their child.
And if you do not have a willing yoga partner, you can even practice with strangers in a class setting.
While performing yoga poses for couples with someone you trust is easier, there are benefits to trying partner yoga with someone you don’t know!
Constructing yoga poses for two people with a stranger can build your self-esteem when it comes to meeting and talking with new people in any setting, from work to parties.
If you are more on the shy side, the skills and confidence you build interacting with your new-to-you yoga partner can translate to other areas of your life.
Plus, with the amount of trust and communication you will have with that person, you might end up making a friend out of the deal.
Most partner yoga workshops do not require participants to bring an existing yoga partner, instead allowing people to pair up based on body type and experience levels.
New to the area? Here’s a great way to meet new people that share your interests that’s NOT at a bar!
Considerations for yoga poses for couples…
Safety first, people!
Not unlike other types of physical activity, safety is an important aspect when it comes to partner yoga poses.
And, while in the case of running or doing pilates, you are only responsible for your own wellbeing, when trying yoga poses for two people you must also look out for your partner.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Consent plays an important role in partner yoga.
If your yoga partner is not comfortable with a pose it’s best to steer clear until the both parties feel safe.
Even in the midst of executing one of the couples yoga poses, if one partner is not happy, it’s best to stop and look for a different approach.
That’s why clear communication is vital for this activity.
This one may seem obvious, but if people are excited to try something, this can lead to hasty and poor decisions, which is why America’s Funniest Home Videos can even exist.
Make SURE you are in an appropriate environment where there are no sharp objects or corners you might land on, and no children or pets that could get in your way.
Keep you or your yoga partner from slipping by avoiding practicing in a hot or humid environment where you are going to get too sweaty.
Also, don’t wear baggy clothing that might obstruct your view (as in your shirt covers up your face) and make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets.
In cases where both people want to try the role of a flyer and a base, the general rule is that you want your yoga partner to be a similar size as you.
However, in a pair where one partner is significantly larger than the other, in the interest of safety, be careful when distributing responsibilities, i.e. if you are an adult practicing with a child, you would always act as the base.
If you do not feel confident as a base, this will likely translate into your poses, leaving the flyer anxious and making your formation unstable.
When performing yoga poses for two people that have a higher risk of injury, it is important that a spotter is present whose main purpose would be to catch or direct the flyer safely to the ground if they start falling.
Now that the details have been sorted out, go find your yoga partner and get started!
Yoga poses for two people easy for beginners
Everybody has to start somewhere!
Luckily, there are beginner partner yoga poses that can help you find success in acroyoga!
Boat pose for two
One of the best couples yoga poses easy for beginners to try is the Double Boat!
If you are hesitant to get airborn, this is a great place to start.
- Sit facing each with your knees bent.
- Grab each others hands and touch your feet together.
- Working together, press against your yoga partner’s feet while you push them into the sky and straighten you legs.
- Keeping your core engaged, lean back until the weight of your torso is supported by your partner, and vice versa.
Double Downward Facing Dog
Another one of the great partner yoga poses for beginners is a Double Downward Facing Dog.
- The base will go into Downward Facing Dog.
- The flyer will stand just in front of the base’s hands, facing away from the base.
- Placing their hands on the ground in front of them, the flyer will place one foot on the lower ack of the base, then the other.
One of the most commonly performed partner yoga poses for beginners, Bird can be performed by most novices with the right guidance and a little bit of practice.
As a matter of fact, many of us have practiced this partner yoga pose when we were kids without even realizing it!
- Bird is performed with the base lying on their back, arms and legs extended upwards while supporting the flyer at the base of their hips.
- The flyer’s job is to maintain continuous muscle engagement and keep their center of gravity situated around their hips and pelvis.
- A beginner variation involves hand-to-hand contact for additional support, as shown in the phot above, but as you become better versed at your yoga poses for couples craft, you could attempt the hands-free variation!
Another of the best yoga poses for two people easy to master is flying whale, almost a reverse variation of Bird.
- The base stays in a similar position, their arms and legs extended upwards.
- The flyer is facing upwards, with their middle and upper back supported by the base’s feet, and their ankles stabilized by the base’s hands.
- It may appear as a more passive pose, but it still requires effort on both parts. For the flyer, it’s a wonderful way to relieve tension in the spine, and the base benefits from strengthening of their arms, legs, and core.
Yoga poses with a partner that are challenging
So you and your yoga partner are killing your couples yoga poses with no problem, what’s next?
Below are some yoga poses for two people hard for beginners, but definitely doable for those that are ready for more challenge!
If you mastered the hands-free Bird pose, and wish to try something more advanced, you could try your hand at the Bow formation.
- From your Bird, the flyer will reach their hands back, bend their knees and grab hold of their feet or ankles.
- If the full Bow variation is a little bit dicey for you, you could opt to practice it on one side at a time (Half-Bow).
- The base should make sure their legs are stable and their feet are firmly situated at the flyer’s hip.
- The flyer needs to make sure to keep their chest lifted as the weight will shift when the knees are bent.
- It would also be helpful for the base to keep their hands lifted and ready to catch the flyer’s shoulders if they lose their balance and start falling forward.
An impressive feat, this partner yoga pose requires the flyer to hold their body upside-down in a strong straight line.
When executing Candlestick, the base is essentially holding the flyer’s body weight in their hands, so it is best if the flyer is smaller and lighter than the base.
It is also best to practice this yoga pose with an experienced spotter who is able to react quickly should anything go wrong.
- Start in the Bird pose.
- The flyer grabs the base’s ankles firmly.
- While keeping their body in a straight line, the flyer rotates their torso toward the ground.
- The base grasps the flyer’s shoulders as soon as they can reach them.
- The flyer continues to rotate their torso downward until their body is completely upside-down making a straight line.
As a static pose, Throne could probably be placed in the beginner partner yoga poses category as once the balance is established, Throne is quite easy to hold.
However, entering the pose is a whole different story.
Just like Candlestick, it’s best to learn Throne with a spotter who can guide you through the transition and catch the flyer if they start falling.
- Start in Bird pose.
- The flyer shirts their weight to the left hip and bends their right knee.
- Bending their right hip, the flyer brings their right foot forward by side of the base’s thigh.
- This is repeated with the left leg.
- The flyer brings their feet to the inside of the base’s thighs and hooks them around their legs to help hold them in a seated position on the base’s’ feet.
- The base may need to bend their knees while that happens.
- When the flyer is ready, they release the base’s hands and sit up tall.
- The base straightens their legs more, but maintains a microbend.
Partner yoga YouTube flows…
Once you learn the basics of partner yoga, you can work through several yoga poses for couples in a sequence.
Below are free videos you can follow along with that yoga poses with a partner to a whole new level!
Koya Webb offers this beautiful video featuring 12 minutes of couples yoga poses:
Take it up a notch…
Feel like you need a little more instruction?
YouTube offers many high-quality yoga classes, but if you find yourself wasting time endlessly scrolling to find a class you like with a qualified instructor, it may be time to take your practice up a notch.
Find class and programs teaching every kind of yoga you can think of, with several classes focused on yoga poses for two people taught by world-class yoga instructors at YogaDownload, including partner yoga class, BFF Yoga!
According to YogaDownload, Michelle Berman Marchildon writes for Yoga International and has been featured in Origin Magazine, Mantra Yoga and Health, Sports Illustrated, Yoga Journal, and Elephant Journal.
They add that he is “well into his third decade with yoga, Shy has tens of thousands of hours of experience bringing yoga to students of all levels, treating patients, and training yoga teachers and therapists around the globe.”
Why not learn from some of the best yoga educators around, especially when they offer super affordable subscription packages, saving you time AND money.
We have explored what partner yoga is, the many benefits, and some yoga poses for two people. If you can find a yoga partner and have the desire, why not give this fun practice a try? If nothing else, it will be an interesting and fun way to get some exercise!
Thanks for reading, and take care!
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