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In partner yoga, the less flexible or balanced partner should determine the difficultly level of the poses. Any yoga poses that are done on one side should be repeated on the other. The instructions given here are for both partners to follow simultaneously. Photos will be added as soon as possible.
Dress comfortably in a warm and calmly lit room. Welcome your partner and sit cross-legged with them, back to back. Take an upright and relaxed posture as you sit, and give each other a moment to set aside any plans, stresses or concerns that the day has brought. Begin to feel your own breath, slow, calm and deep. See if you can feel your partner's breath, and if you can, gently work on bringing your inhalation into sync with their exhalation. Be mindful of each other's presence and and calmly aware of any feelings that it might bring, appreciating the positive and seeing through the negative. If it feels right and comfortable, join both your hands with theirs.
Starting in the seated cross-legged back-to-back position (a.k.a. Easy Pose) reach back and link elbows with your partner. Have the first partner exhale as they lean forward, entering a forward bend and pulling their partner into a gentle backbend. Repeat this the other way around.
Again from Easy Pose, touch hands with your partner on each side. Raise all four hands up and stretch upward; then gently lean to one side and lower that side's hands to the floor for support. Reach the higher hands up and gently toward the direction you're leaning.
Sit cross-legged back-to-back and twist to the right first. Reach your right hand back and take hold of your partner's left knee. Straighten your back on the inhale, then exhale as you use your partner's knee to pull yourself into a spinal twist. Hold for a few breaths and be mindful of proper breathing, which is easy to lose during a twist. Repeat this pose on the other side.
Sit cross-legged facing each other, close by with knees touching. Place your right arm behind your back with the forearm parallel to the floor, and that right hand alongside the opposite hip. Now reach your left hand forward to grasp your partner's right hand. Each partner should be mindful of their right shoulde, as they pull with their left hand to bring their partner into a twist. Repeat on the other side.
Sit facing each other with legs extended forward, and soles of your feet touching the soles of your partner's. Reach forward and grasp each other's hands, then have one partner pull the other into a forward bend. Repeat with the other partner. Try to avoid rounding your back; bend forward from the lower back instead. For a wide-legged forward bend, have your partner move their straight legs wide apart, open yours slightly more narrowly and place your heels against their inner ankle, then pull them gently but firmly towards you.
Sit on the floor in cobbler's pose, with your knees apart and the soles of feet together in front of you. Your partner can assist by taking the same pose facing you and pulling you forward as in the partner forward bends. They could also kneel behind you, press downward and outward on your knees with their hands, and press forward on your lower back with their chest or their shoulder. For a more aggressive stretch requiring more safety-consciousness, they can stand and place their hands on your shoulders, then carefully step onto your inner legs, keeping most of their weight on your shoulders.
Enter janu sirsasana; sit with one leg extended and the sole of the other foot against the extended leg's inner thigh. Have your partner do the same so the soles of your feet touch, then join both hands and pull each other forward as in the partner forward bends. From here you can turn your bodies so your straight leg's arm moves lower and your bent leg's arm moves higher, while your torsos face toward your folded legs.
Sit on the floor facing your partner about three feet away. Bend your knees in front of you with your bum on the floor, and touch the soles of your feet to your partner's. Reach forward and grip your partner's forearms, then work together to lift all your feet off the ground. Raise your shins to parallel for a half-boat, and point them upward for a full boat. This pose demands some good physical communication and it's also fun. For an advanced variation, try this with legs wide and straight and hands in between them. You can even grasp opposite hands and carefully try for a twist.
Sit on the floor with your knees pointing upward and bent. Have your partner sit beside you in the same way, but facing the opposite direction, so your hips line up with their feet and vice versa. If your partner is on your right, reach your right arm under their legs and hold their left hand. This is the starting position.
From here, keep your grip on your partner as you roll back on to your upper back. Before you roll forward, turn your body a bit in the direction your partner was sitting. Then come forward to enter a mirror image of the starting position, with your partner sitting on your left and your left arm under their legs holding their hand. Roll back and forth a few times and have fun.
Kneel facing your partner on the floor, with your knees a few inches away from theirs. Bring your whole body upright except for your lower legs, and take hold of their forearms. Now lean back into a backbend, arching your back to enter camel pose while you keep your head upright.
Stand facing your partner one arm's length away, and clasp their right hand in your left and their left in your right. Now lower yourself back into a squat-like position, keeping your knees directly above or behind your toes for safety. Lower yourself farther for a challenge, perhaps bringing your thighs parallel to the floor. You can also do moving squats together if you like.
Stand facing each other, one leg's length away. Raise your straight right leg to be parallel to the floor, and have your partner take your foot in their left hand. Balance in this pose. You could stand facing so your right arms are in line with each other, and raise your right leg into your partner's right hand.
This one is easier in pairs than it is alone. Stand facing each other and join hands in a handshake. Now step backward and farther backward, leaning forward in the process until both torsos are parallel to the floor. Finally raise the leg opposite your clasped hand until it's parallel to the floor, and do the same with your non-clasped arm. In the final pose, both arms, your torso and one leg will be parallel to the floor, and the other leg will be vertical with its knee bent slightly for safety.
For Warrior II, stand back to back with legs planted wide, one leg's length away from each other. Face right and point your right foot to the right, and your left foot 30° from that direction. Now bend your right knee to bring your hips (which are parallel to your partner's) forward and down into a lunge position. Do not move your knee forward past your toes. Finally extend your left arm backward, extend your right arm forward, and gaze intensely past your right hand.
Bring your legs and feet into the Warrior II starting position. Now slide your hips to the left and reach your right arm as far right as it will go. Finally lower your right arm to touch your shin or perhaps the floor, orienting your shoulders vertically in the process. Point your left arm upward and gaze up at your left hand if that's comfortable for your neck.
From triangle pose, bring your forward hands down between you and point them backward, and bring your backward hands over your bodies to end up pointing forward. You'll have to turn your head over each other to enter this challenging pose, which requires quite a flexible spine.
Stand back to back and touching, with hands joined and out at arm's length. Have the active partner lower their buttocks just below the passive partner's; this might not be necessary if the passive partner is taller. Now have the active partner straighten their legs and bend forward to 90°, pulling the passive partner into a deep and restful backbend. This may takes some practice to get the height right; you'll know when you get it 'cause it'll feel amazing. If straightening the legs with the other's weight on them is too much work for the active partner, start the passive partner on a block or otherwise elevated.
Stand back to back and touching, inhale as you extend your arms upward, and exhale as you fold forward from the waist to reach toward the floor. If you look through the gap in your legs you'll see your partner; reach toward them and clasp their hands or elbows to pull yourself into a deeper stretch. This pose can also be done with feet planted wide on the floor.
This pose is most appropriate for romantic partners. Stand facing each other with bodies touching, then clasp your hands around each other's forearms or elbows and lean slowly backward, curving your spine into a fairly intense backbend. Pull each other forward slowly and safely to exit this pose.
Once one partner assumes this pose (click here for instructions if needed), the second partner can enter downward dog with their feet in the same area, and use their heels to press down on the first partner's heels, thus deepening that aspect of the stretch. The second partner can also wrap a yoga strap around the first partner's hips, and use it to pull the first partner's weight away from their arms and towards their feet. This will remove some weight from the arms and allow the spine to extend.
With the first partner in downward dog, have the second partner come onto their hands and knees, just in front of the first partner and facing the same direction. They then bring one foot up to rest on the same side of the first partner's hips, and follow with the second foot, being careful not to step on the first partner's spine or mid-back in the process. The second partner will end with their straight legs extending horizontally from the first partner's hips, and their straight arms in a vertical line along with their torso, thus creating a handstand.
In this challenging pose, the first partner lies on the floor and raises both legs up to 45°; the second partner presses their centre of gravity (3 inches below their navel) against the bottom of the first partner's feet. The second partner then reaches forward/down to join hands with the first partner, and the first partner brings their legs up to 90° to balance the second partner on the bottom of their feet. To succeed at this pose the second partner should press forward with their abdominals to avoid excessive pressure on their guts. If a solid balance is achieved, the second partner can release their hands and raise their arms and legs into locust pose. If you're an ambitious team with a particularly limber second partner, try this with the second partner face up.
Have one partner rest in child's pose. The second partner will lay on the first partner's back so that both spines are aligned with each other and touching. To find the right level on your partner's back, your tailbone should be at the same height as theirs as you lower yourself down. The second partner can entend their arms out to the sides or upward, and can also extend their legs downward to deepen the backbend. Their weight distributed properly can be quite soothing for the first partner.
Have the active partner sit comfortably, cross-legged in Easy Pose or on their heels in Rock Pose. The active partner clasps their hands together behind their back and raises them to a comfortable and challenging height. The assisting partner sits behind them, places one hand behind their heart with gentle forward pressure, and lifts their clasped hands to a greater height. The assisting partner may need to switch their forward-pressing arm to be below the active partner's hands, or use their foot to press forward on the active partner's heart and both hands to raise their hands.
Have one partner lay stomach-down on the floor, and the second partner stand with their feet on either side of the first partner's thighs. The first partner reaches their arms back, the second partner grasps their hands, and the second partner gently pulls the first into a back arch, a.k.a. cobra pose. This can be an amazing passive stretch for the first partner's pectorals and abs. The second partner can also enter a standing camel pose, or redo this pose while sitting on the first partner's thighs.
Sitting back to back in meditation will provide physical support and allow the back muscles to relax. It'll also creat a synergy that makes the mental focus and quietude easier to find. It can also be a deeply connecting experience, and comes very highly recommended.
Lay down in savasana with your head at your partner's feet and your sides touching. Now shuffle farther down (i.e. bring your head closer to theirs) until you can rest your hand comfortably on your partner's heart. If you know your chakras, choose one that you'd both like to direct some energy to and place your hands at that level instead. Being this relaxed and open together can raise your comfort level and deepen feelings of trust. Enjoy!