The Benefits of Partner Yoga Poses
Apr 12, 2023
Yoga poses develop strength, coordination, flexibility and balance. They help increase body awareness, release stress, improve posture and support better functioning of all bodily systems.
Partnering up with a parent or child, sibling or friend to put two poses together takes these benefits further.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been facilitating family Yoga classes. It’s my favorite type of class to teach because I love to see families connecting and finding calm – together. Partner poses are a central feature of the class.
I also regularly include partner poses in the kids' Yoga classes I teach, whether it’s a class of kindergarteners or teens.
Partner poses help foster better communication and connection, something that is desperately needed today. Technology has simultaneously given us unlimited access and has also built a wall between us. It’s common to see a family of four sitting together at a restaurant, all eyes down on their phones. You see this with a group of friends too. It seems we’ve forgotten how to make meaningful connections.
Teaching partner poses in Yoga class provides a wonderful opportunity to foster connection.
A partner pose is simply two people doing a pose together. These can be done seated or standing. Sometimes partners are mirroring each other. Each one is doing the same thing while holding hands, leaning against each other or balancing the opposing weight. Like partner Warrior II pose or Tree pose.
In other poses, one partner is doing something, like being a rock in child’s pose, while the other partner is lying back along the rock being a lizard in the sun. This “Lizard on a Rock” partner pose is probably the most popular of all. It can be done with a parent and a child or two similar-sized children. Or, two grown-ups. The benefit of the rock position is the compression or hugging of the weight of the body on top of you, in a safe and stable manner. The Lizard gets to experience a gentle, supported back bend. Partners take turns in each position. This fosters empathy as they are literally experiencing what the other has experienced. You can invite a conversation about how each partner felt in each position to further the empathy and communication.
Kids like partner poses because they're fun! Humans are hardwired to connect with others, and doing poses with a partner is a great way to do that. It may feel a little unfamiliar at first but once we get started that quickly goes away and turns into playful exploration.
In addition to the basic benefits of each pose, partner poses add in the benefits of better communication, compassion, trust and empathy. They are often fun, and sometimes a bit awkward, so there are even more benefits of smiles and laughter.
We have repair work to do when it comes to human connection. Partner poses are an engaging, rich and meaningful way to do this.