Imagine this: you are looking deep into the eyes of someone you love. You are so connected to her that you are breathing in sync. You clasp her hands, lean in slowly as she leans back and away from you, pulling you forward, releasing your hamstrings and adductor muscles.
If that wasn't where you expected the story to go, you clearly need to try Couples Yoga.
"Yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, so your asana practice is the perfect opportunity to deepen your union with your partner, lover, or even friends and family. Couples yoga has been proven to improve communication and nurture trust through movement, breathing and touch. The process of two people moving together can create a unique sense of harmony as your breathing falls into sync and you rely on each other to flow through the poses.
Couples Yoga doesn't have to be acrobatic, although its cousin, Acro Yoga, is gaining in popularity. In fact, basic Couples Yoga is accessible to even newbie yogis. Here are some suggestions to get started sharing your practice with someone you love.
The breath is the basis of every yoga practice. In Couples Yoga, entrainment is the act of synchronization of rhythmic cycles, such as coordinated breathing. As breathing syncs up, the couple must slow down and relax together. The act of entrainment unites the bodies even before they share movement. Once the couple finds rhythm in their movements, the unity is heightened as the couple becomes one unit.
Begin in a comfortable seated position, back to back. If it's comfortable, you may choose to link arms. Pay attention to your partner's breath. Begin to breath alternately, each partner exhaling as the other inhales. Continue this for several minutes.
The alignment of movements between two people requires a certain amount of trust in your partner. In order to be successful in couples yoga, each person must be able to focus solely on their partner, and trust that they will hold on firmly, help maintain balance and support each position. This unwavering trust and understanding that your partner is there for you can deepen your relationship and provide emotional and physical fulfillment. Double downward dog is a wonderful posture to help build trust through communication.
Start in a downward dog position, one in front of the other. Keeping his hands on the floor, the partner in front should press one foot, then the other, into his partner's lower back, gently straightening his legs until he is in a stable and comfortable position. Keep talking as you move through the pose to ensure that both partners are comfortable. Hold for five to seven breaths. To come out of the pose, the partner in back should bend her knees, and lower hips to tabletop, then Child’s pose, so that the front partner can release his feet to the floor safely.
Twists are amazing postures to release stress or anxiety. Twisting with a partner enables you to safely get deeper into the pose, releasing stored tension in the body. You will get double the benefit of twists in Couples Yoga, as the intimacy of the practice promotes feelings oflightheartedness, happiness and bliss.
To practice partner twist, begin in a comfortable seated position, back to back. Both partners should inhale and reach their arms overhead. Then, both should exhale and twist to the right, reaching their right hands to their partner's left knees and their left hands to their own right knees. (Sound complicated? Don't worry, just set your hands on the closest available knees.) Hold for several breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Core strength is central to your yoga practice. Try challenging yourself in new ways with buddy boat pose. Your goal is to end up in full boat, feet pressed together, and holding hands. Here's how you get there:
Sit facing one another, with knees bent and toes touching. Reach for your partner’s wrists.
Walk the soles of your feet together with your partner's feet. Keeping your chest open, begin to straighten your legs. Don't worry if this is harder than it sounds! Try straightening one leg at a time if you need to. Once you are in the pose, hold as long as you comfortably can. Aim for five to seven breaths.
Couples Yoga is a challenging and serious practice that requires commitment, effort and focus. However, there will undoubtedly be times when finding the right place for arms and legs to go will result in laughter and probably remind you of playing a game of Twister. This sense of fun and excitement as you work together through play can improve your mood and open your heart to your partner. So don't be surprised if the heat you built on that mat in Couples Yoga inspires you to try some more, shall we say, acrobatic postures elsewhere.
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