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Getting Closer with the Yamas and Niyamas: 10 tips on Partner Yoga.

February 1, 2010

Getting Closer with the Yamas and Niyamas: 10 tips on Partner Yoga.

Practicing yoga with a partner is one of the most beautiful ways of bringing all of the “off the mat” elements right into your practice as you powerfully face issues of communication, trust, surrender, honesty, acceptance, and so much more. Allow these ten tips to guide your practice, then find a partner and get started!

1. Gentleness – Be kind, loving and gentle with your partner and yourself.

2. Truth – Be fully open, honest and communicative about your experience. No one benefits if either of you get injured and you can only know how it feels if you both speak your truth to each other. This open honesty helps to build the trust necessary to attempt more advanced poses and to go deeper into your stretches. So, speak often.

3. Generosity – Give freely of your awareness of your partner’s body. Listen for cues of resistance and opening. The more you stay open to listening to and learning about your partner’s body, the more enjoyable the experience. If you hold back, or pay attention only to your body, you’ll be missing out on the beautiful opportunity of deeply connecting with your partner.

4. Moderation – Commit to moving slowly into and out of poses. Avoid moving fast or taking it too deep too quickly. Take your time to enjoy the deep stretching and lengthening that can only come from using your partner’s resistance.

5. Sharing – Recognize that you are in this together. Neither one of you are participating solely for yourself or the other. This is a joint endeavor, maintain this intention by continuously checking in with yourself and with your partner through verbal cues, eye contact, listening to your breath and increasing your awareness of your partner’s subtle body movements.

6. Purity – Come clean. It’s always more fun to be close to something that feels and smells good. Fresh, clean clothes are helpful to you and your partner’s concentration. Clean hands and feet are especially important.

7. Contentment – Practice acceptance of your body and your partner’s body. Always work with the limits of the partner who isn’t as strong or as flexible. Attempting poses that are seemingly beyond one of your current limits is fine as long as you approach it as a journey requiring patience, honesty and communication. Begin with modifications and build up to the full pose.

8. Self-discipline – Partner yoga can bring up very intense experiences that one may tend to shy away from. Use your commitment to self-discipline to stay with the practice with a gentle, open and loving partner. The more often you practice, the more you open yourself to the deep connecting, uplifting and benefits.

9. Self-study – Use your time with your partner to understand where your internal resistance arises. Are you impatient, judgmental, reserved, over-cautious, over-zealous, demanding or critical of yourself or of your partner? Use your practice to identify those fear-based aspects that you want to transform into love-based extensions of your true self.

10. Surrender – Most of all, surrender to the moment and have fun!

Sarah Stone-Francisco is the founder of It’s Yoga Cape Town, the first studio to offer classes and teacher training in the fun and uplifting Rocket series of Astanga yoga developed by Larry Schultz. She also offers partner yoga workshops and acro-yoga classes weekly. (www.itsyogacapetown.com)

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