September 3, 2021
Four Yoga Poses for Two People
We decided to share a few yoga poses for two people because there’s no question that practicing yoga with a friend or loved one deepens your bond and connection with them. This is so essential to the heart of yoga, and is true to its definition: “union”.
One of my favorite definitions of yoga is, “to be alone together.” We practice side-by-side (in an in-person setting) while we stay attuned to our own mats, and the rhythm of our own breath. Or, if we practice online we are together just at different times and in different spaces. However, to help enliven that sense of connection, here are a few yoga poses for two people you can even try at home!
Remember to practice these poses after you’ve warmed your body. Consider moving through 5 rounds of Sun Salutation A and 3 rounds of Sun Salutation B to warm your body and connect with your breath. This will help ensure your muscles and joints are prepared for the exploration which can help prevent injury. Also, this will help ensure that your mind is clear and focused which is essential when you are trying something new so that your attention can be placed fully on your partner as you experiment in a playful way together.
And, as always, remember to only go as far as feels comfortable for you. Yoga, especially power yoga, is about empowering your wisdom rather than your ego so at any point in time feel free to modify or return to a pose at a later date when you feel ready.
Side-By-Side Floating Pigeon
Benefits: For many people balance is one of the trickiest aspects of a yoga practice. Balance is something that diminishes significantly as we age. In fact, falling is the leading cause of death in people over 65 years of age who are not facing a serious illness such as cancer or dementia. Working on maintaining and even improving balance together is literally a life saver!
How to perform the side-by-side floating pigeon pose:
- Stand side-by-side at the top of your yoga mats or on a solid, even surface.
- On an inhale, bend your knees and descend your hips coming into Chair Pose.
- Reach your arms to the sky.
- Each person lifts their outside leg to their chest, bending their lifted knee and placing the ankle of the lifted leg above the opposite knee making a figure four shape.
- Flex the foot of the lifted leg.
- Keep the knee of the standing leg bent.
- Spread your arms placing your arms across each other’s back for support, connection and steadiness.
- Gaze straight ahead or slightly down.
- Hold for 5 – 10 breaths.
Reclining Hero’s Pose & Crow
Benefits: Reclining hero’s pose or Supta Virasana is a backbend and a deep stretch for the quadriceps, hip flexors and front body. This pose helps to open the front body while improving flexibility.
Given that it is a backbend, it also helps to improve lung capacity which is key to vitality. Recent studies have demonstrated that one of the biggest factors in determining life span is actually how much breath you are able to take in so moving through yoga postures that you help you expand your lungs may even lead to a longer life!
Crow or Bakasana is an arm balance which improves arm and shoulder strength as well as toning and invigorating the abdominal muscles. In order to maintain Crow Pose, a strong core is required. Holding this posture for several breaths activates the muscles of the abdominal wall helping to tone and strengthen these key muscle groups. While doing these postures together, the reclining person receives an amazing hands-on adjustment that both deepens the experience of the posture while providing soothing touch.
How to perform the reclining hero’s pose & crow pose:
- Begin by choosing which person is comfortable doing which pose. I would suggest having the person without any history of knee injury or back pain begin in Reclining Hero’s Pose. If you have a history of knee injury, please stay away from this posture entirely.
- Come to a kneeling stance. Separate your heels wider than your hips and rest your sits bones to the floor.
- Recline onto your back, bringing your arms into a cactus shape at shoulder height to help open the upper chest and imbue you with a sense of rest.
- The second person will place their palms to the top of the thighs of the reclining person. Please note: the hands should be placed at the middle of the thigh or slightly higher. The hands should not be near the knees of the reclining person.
- Begin to bend your elbows and place your knees above the elbows, resting the knees on the triceps creating a strong, steady shelf.
- Shift forward, engage the abdominal muscles by lifting the navel to the spine and float the toes off of the floor brining the heels toward the sits bones. Protract the shoulder blades and gaze slightly forward.
- Make eye contact and breathe together.
- Hold for 5 breaths.
- Depending on your physical history and if it would be appropriate, switch positions.
Floating Dancer Pose
Benefits: In this posture where one person is reclining and the other person is “flying,” trust is deepened. Working together, you physically build strength and balance while internally building the same qualities. The person reclining builds muscular strength in the legs and abdominal muscles while the person who is flying builds spinal mobility and shoulder flexibility as they come into the backbend.
How to perform the floating dancer pose:
- Once again, decide who will do which pose first.
- The first person begins by reclining onto their back and extending their legs up toward the sky.
- The second person will come toward the reclining person’s legs and pause.
- The reclining person can bend their knees slightly as the standing person leans forward. The feet of the reclining person will rest at the frontal hip points of the person who will be flying.
- The standing person will lean slightly forward, giving their weight over to the reclining person.
- For stability, begin by holding hands.
- The reclining person will straighten their legs toward the sky brining the flying person parallel to the floor.
- Pause here for a few breaths to check-in with each other. If you feel stable, move on, If this feels like a lot, stay here and enjoy. You can always try the next parts of the posture another time.
- If you feel ready to proceed, release one hand. The reclining person will extend their arm out to the side for stability. The flying person will reach back bending the same side knee and grasping the outer edge of the lifted foot. Begin to lift the toes to the sky.
- Hold for 5 breaths.
- To exit, reverse the steps and then decide if you’d like to switch and try it again!
Partner Seated Meditation Pose
Benefits: Co-regulation is a beautiful way to return our nervous systems to equanimity. It is first learned in infancy and early childhood when a child attunes to their caregiver to help settle strong emotions and feelings.
Co-regulation is defined as warm and responsive interactions that provide support! This is a great practice to enjoy before or after a difficult conversation, after strong feelings have arisen for one or both people or as a way to create connection and a felt-sense of union or oneness.
This type of practice is key to healing the nervous system and can help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system leading to decrease in physical, mental and emotional stress, a decrease in inflammation and an increase in positive feelings from a release of the feel good chemical oxytocin.
How to perform the partner seated meditation pose:
- Find a comfortable seated position.
- Sit directly across from your partner.
- Sit up tall and straight.
- Take several deep breaths.
- Have each person place their right hand on their knee face up while the other person places their left hand on their knee face up. Place your opposite hands on top of your partner’s knee.
- You can sit this way for any length of time that feels appropriate and right for you today. I would suggest starting with 2 minutes and eventually building up to 10 minutes (or longer!).
- You can close your eyes, sitting and breathing together or for an extra dose of feel-good hormones, maintain eye contact the entire time.
As you practice these yoga poses for two people, it’s essential to maintain both your focus as well as a playful attitude. Stay connected and attentive, attuned both to your partner as well as your own breath and be sure to have fun! It’s important to remain open and receptive. This is a time to slip away from judgment or needing to do things the “right” way and simply explore together as you build your bond of friendship and connection. These types of explorations lead to increases in listening and experiences of feeling truly seen which help alleviate your sense of love and togetherness.
For a yoga program that has this element of partnership, make sure you try out Yoga 30 for 30, a 30-minute a day, 30-day comprehensive yoga program you can enjoy with a partner and I teach to together with my husband, Travis!