Many people—myself included—consider yoga their “me time.” When we practice, we’re liberated from our desks, away from our children, and free to move and meditate on our mat. Those minutes are precious and much needed—which is why the idea of partner yoga can be, well, horrifying.
In fact, the first time my instructor asked us to pair up, her eyes twinkling mischievously, I thought about rolling up my mat and running out the door. I didn’t want to touch someone I barely knew, forced to make small talk while awkwardly twisting into a pose. I came to class for enlightenment and strength, and partner yoga wasn’t going to help in either category.
I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The hour I thought would be the worst of my life actually ended up being—well, not the best, but pretty great. Like so many other things in life, I’d shown up with assumptions, and that kept me closed to a new experience. By sharing my precious yoga time, I was able to find enlightenment in an unexpected place—someone else.
If you’re afraid of partner yoga, or if you’re looking for something new and different to do for your next date night, here are the top three reasons to give partner yoga a try.
Partner yoga builds trust.
When you’re practicing yoga with someone else, communication is key. It’s sort of like when you were a kid at camp and you had to fall backward, eyes closed, trusting that your fellow campers would catch you. In partner yoga, you must rely on and work with your partner to achieve proper alignment, focus, and balance. If one goes down, the other will follow. Plus working together to hold the pose, trusting that you’re each doing your part, is a perfect metaphor for any relationship.
Partner yoga allows you to go deeper.
I’m one of those yogis that loves adjustments and props. No matter how deep into a pose I think I am, all I need is the gentle press of my instructor’s hands on my hip or shoulders, and suddenly the pose feels brand new. When practicing yoga with another person, the physical (and emotional!) support your partner provides allows you to experience the poses in different, deeper ways. (Another great relationship metaphor!)
Partner yoga lets you get physical.
Sure, we hug our friends and family, and we’re intimate with our partners, but in most of our lives, physical touch has a time and place. If touch occurs outside those parameters, we feel uncomfortable and awkward, and this is shame—especially considering the healing powers physical touch can have. Partner yoga forces us to engage with another person and, as I learned, the act of touching someone soon feels less strange, more natural. Even if you’re practicing with your significant other, you may find that the act of touching each another in a different way builds a new kind of intimacy.
In yoga, we’re often asked to open our hips, our shoulders, our chests, those physical areas that become tight and tense. Partner yoga goes a step further by asking you to open your mind and heart as well. So the next time your instructor says “find a partner!” smile at someone, step off your mat, and embrace the opportunity. You won’t regret it.