Year of Yoga: Grab a Buddy
With summer just around the corner, now if the perfect time to grab a friend or significant other so that you both have accountability partners to help you meet your goals. Partner yoga can help you achieve stretches that you could not execute on your own, not to mention it is a great way to spend some quality time.
Partner Pose I: Triple Hill
This pose will also increase flexibility in your spine. If you feel weird about gazing into your partner's eyes, just tuck your chin in to your chest.
-Stand facing your partner about a foot apart.
-Raise your hands overhead so you can touch your palms together, with your arms shoulder-width distance apart.
-Keeping your palms pressed together, both of you slowly walk backward until your hips are over your heels and your foreheads are touching.
-Arch your spines down but be sure to keep your abs engaged. This will help to increase the stretch in your hamstrings, chest, and shoulders.
After five or so breaths, both of you can lower your heads down, drawing your chins to your own chests to feel an amazing stretch in the back of your necks. Hold for another five or more breaths and then both of you can lift your heads back up. To release, slowly walk your feet towards one another coming to a standing position, and lower your arms back down at your sides.
Partner Pose II: Boat Pose
When you do Boat pose on your own, it totally works your abs, but when you do it with a partner, it changes the stretch and works your hamstrings.
Sit opposite your partner, with about three feet between you. Hold hands on the outside of your legs. Raise both legs and place the soles of your feet together.
Work on finding your balance and, when you're ready, try straightening your legs. You may need to come out of the pose and adjust the distance between you and you partner, moving an inch or two apart if your hamstrings are less flexible, and moving a couple inches closer if you are more flexible. The least flexible person is always in charge, so make sure you do the pose in a way that's comfortable to both partners. It's OK if one or both of you can't straighten your legs. If it helps, you can work on one leg at a time, keeping the opposite foot planted on the floor.
As you hold the pose, work on drawing your lower back in (trying not to hunch or round your spine) and engaging your abs. You can either gaze towards each other, or drop your heads back and gaze behind you.
Stay here for five or more breaths and then slowly lower your legs down to the ground and release your partner's hands. If your lower back is sore, take a counter-pose such as Child's Pose on your own, or do Double Sandwich together.
Partner Pose III: Seated Forward Bend
This an intense stretch when you do it on your own, but when you press the soles of your feet together with someone else, and clasp hands, it takes intense to a whole new level.
Sit opposite your partner with the soles of your feet together. Now fold forward and, if you can, reach for each other's hands. If you can't reach, have each person grab onto either end of a hand towel or a strap. It's okay if your torso isn't close to your legs. As long as you are feeling the stretch in your lower back and hamstrings, you are doing it right.
Depending on how flexible you are, you can tuck your chin in and relax your chest down to your thighs, trying to keep your legs straight to increase the stretch in your hamstrings. If it's really easy, release your forehead towards your shins.
Talk to each other throughout the entire experience. Make sure that neither of you are feeling pain or discomfort (this is supposed to feel good). When you are ready to come out, release hold of your partner, bring your hands to either side of you legs and walk them in towards your hips, slowly lifting your torso back up.
Thank you to Yoganonymous for the detailed directions on how to practice these partner poses. In the comments below let us know your favorite partner yoga practice.