Partner yoga is a fun activity to do with a friend or loved one. Beyond being fun, partner postures can help strengthen your body, improve your flexibility, and enhance relaxation. Practicing in pairs strengthens the relationship with your yoga partner off your mat and is a powerful way to deepen your connection.
Whether you and your yoga partner are skilled practitioners or beginners, give partner yoga a try. Check out the postures below for a fun addition to your yoga practice.
Sukhasana — Seated Pose
The benefits of this simple seated posture multiply when performed with a partner. In the partner version of Sukhasana, the additional physical support strengthens your posture and helps you sit in the pose for a longer duration of time. Feeling your breath synchronize with your partner will also deepen the relaxation and meditative benefits of this pose.
Begin seated on your mat back to back with your partner. Once settled, transition into a cross-legged position. If either partner feels like their lower back is rounding or their knees are higher than their hips, sit up on a block to give your hips and spine more space.
Once settled into a comfortable seated pose close your eyes. Begin inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Feel your partner’s ribcage expand and contract. Try to synchronize and slow your breath.
Enjoy this pose for at least 10 breaths, but feel free to continue longer!!
Anuvittasana — Standing Backbend Pose
Backbends can be challenging, and sometimes a little frightening. With the help of a partner, backbends can feel more supportive.
Partner A and Partner B both begin standing facing away from each other. Reach your hands behind you and grab onto each other’s hands. Partner A’s left hand will hold Partner B’s right hand, and vice versa.
Once your hands are joined, slowly step away from each other keeping your hands connected. Stop when you feel a stretch across the front of your chest and in your shoulders.
Before moving deeper, ensure that your feet are hip-width apart. Engage your abdomen. Begin gazing up towards the sky as you arch your upper back. Reach your chest to the sky.
You should feel support from your partner’s hands. From this support hopefully both partners are able to move into their backbend with more depth and confidence.
Hold for 5 breaths. After 5 breaths, carefully rise. Both partners take a step backward to reduce the stretch in their chest and shoulders, then when both partners feel ready, release your handhold.
Kumbhakasana — Plank Pose
This two-person variation of the plank will challenge both partners’ strength, core stability, and communication. If you and your partner are up for the challenge, give it a try!
To begin, Partner A gets into a high plank position. Partner A begins on hands and knees. Lift your knees off the mat and walk your feet back until your heels are stacked on top of the ball mound of your toes. Align your shoulders on top of your wrists and face your elbow creases towards the top of your mat.
Once Partner A feels stable, Partner B gets into position. Partner B stands facing Partner A’s feet. In regards to Partner B, Partner A is left of Partner B.
If you are Partner B, place your hands on Partner A’s ankles. Press a little weight into your hands to make sure that Partner A feels stable with weight added.
If Partner A gives the ok move your body close to Partner A’s keeping your hands as they are. Lift your left leg and place the ball mound of your foot on the back of Partner A’s shoulder. Press weight into your left toes.
With confirmation that Partner A is still feeling stable, lift your right leg up and place it on Partner B’s left shoulder. Adjust your alignment so your heels are stacked upon the ball mound of your toes, and your shoulders are aligned on top of your wrists.
Hold this pose for 5 breaths.
To come out of the posture, Partner B takes his right foot off first, followed by the left. Partner B walks his feet closer to his hands, then slowly rises. After Partner B is standing, Partner A can lower down to hands and knees.
Adho Muhka Svanasana — Downward Dog Pose
This is a fun variation to strengthen Partner A’s arms and core while giving Partner B a deeper hamstring and calf stretch. Make sure that you and your partner switch and try both positions for maximal benefit!
To begin this partner variation of Downward Dog, Partner A starts in a basic Downward Dog position. Align yourself into a high plank pose, then shift your hips to the sky creating an inverted V shape.
Place your hands and feet hip-width apart. Seal your palms firmly into the mat and face your elbow creases forward.
Partner B walks over towards Partner A’s head. Partner B is on Partner A’s left side. As Partner B, place your palms a foot in front of Partner A’s. You may feel a little like you are doing Twister, but that is part of the fun!
Lift your right leg and place it on the right side of Partner A’s lower back. If Partner A still feels stable, load more weight into your hands so you can lift your left leg and place it on the left side of Partner A’s lower back.
Partner A remains in a Downward Dog. The pressure of Partner B’s feet pressing Partner A’s lower back should be deepening a hamstring and calf stretch for Partner A.
Partner B should look like she is in an “L” shape. With your feet staying stationary, walk your hands back so they align under your shoulder. Then using the strength in your belly, shift your hips so they align on top of your shoulders.
Hold for 5 breaths.
To exit the pose, Partner B lowers her left leg off to the side of Partner A, followed by the left. Both partners should communicate and be sure to keep their shoulders stable during this transition.
After both partners have safely exited the pose, be sure to switch roles!
Utthita Hata Padangustasana — Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Balance poses are challenging, and even more so when combined with a pose that requires flexibility. With the support of a partner, you can feel more stable and supported when working into a deeper expression of this balance pose. This one can be a little trickier to get into, so enjoy a few laughs if you fall out of the pose on your first attempt!
To set up this pose, Partner A and Partner B stand side by side. Partner A is on the left. Step apart 5 feet.
If you are Partner A pull your right knee to your chest. If you feel off-balance, you can reposition yourself and your partner so you are holding onto a wall or chair with your left hand.
Loop your index and middle finger around your right big toe. Draw your right knee and hip open. Begin straightening out your leg.
As your leg straightens, Partner B will reach over with his left hand and hold underneath your right heel. Once Partner B has Partner A’s heel, Partner B will set up his left leg in the same position. Partner A uses his right hand to hold Partner B’s left heel.
Once you both have hold of each other’s feet, stand up tall. If you are not holding onto for balance, reach your free hand out to the side at shoulder height.
Now is the time where good communication becomes key in this pose. You can talk with your partner and let them know if they can help lift your heel to deepen your stretch. Move slowly, and have fun with it!
Hold for 5 breaths. To exit the pose, gently release each other’s heels and come back to a standing posture. Then switch sides.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana — Handstand Pose
This is a challenging upper body and core strengthener. Try practicing this pose near a wall unless both partners are able to independently hold a handstand for several breaths. If you don’t have a handstand practice, try working on your individual pose before attempting the partner variation.
Partner A and Partner B stand facing each other next to a wall 3 feet apart. Partner A’s left side is to the wall and Partner B’s right. Both partners forward fold, planting their hands firmly on the mat.
Stack your shoulders on top of your wrists and tighten your abdomen. Both partners shift weight into their hands and tuck their knees into their chests. Once balanced, both partners straighten their legs. The wall is there for support if needed.
Communicating with one another, partners now interlace their feet, gripping tightly for stability. This puts both partners into a little bit of a backbend, and a core workout!
Hold for 5 breaths, then unwind your feet and gracefully come out of the pose the same controlled way that you entered it.
Upavistha Konasana — Seated Wide-Legged Fold Pose
This pose is already an amazing stretch for your inner thighs, and it is only made better with the help of your partner.
Begin seated. Face each other with your legs out wide. If you are partner A, widen out your legs as much as is comfortable. Keep your hands behind you for now to promote an upright posture.
Partner B will place her feet on the insides of your ankles. Once ready, reach your arms forward and you will grab on to each other’s elbows.
Sit up tall. Partner B begins leaning back, gently folding Partner A into a deeper stretch. As partner A if you feel like you want more sensation, Partner B can use her feet to push your legs out wider.
Hold for 5-8 breaths. To exit the pose, both partners should engage their abdomen and rise up to seated. Partner B will remove her feet so Partner A can come out of the pose.
Be sure to switch sides so both partners get a stretch!
Pavrita Janu Sirsasana — Revolved Head to Knee Pose
For a great side-body stretch, find a partner and try this pose out!
Partner A begins sitting at the top of a yoga mat, and Partner B sits towards the bottom. Both partners face the long edge of the mat, with Partner A on the left.
Partner A lengthens out his right leg and Partner B his left, connecting the sole of his foot to Partner A’s. Partners should adjust where they are sitting if the distance between doesn’t feel correct.
Both partners bend their other leg so their heel connects to the inner thigh of their straight leg. Partner A lowers his right elbow to the inside of his left knee, and Partner B does the same on the left side.
Partner A reaches his left-hand overhead and Partner B his right. Both partners lean in towards each other so their hands connect overhead. Once connected, both partners focus on opening their chests to the sky and feel a stretch across their sides.
Hold for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Ardha Matsyendrasana — Seated Spinal Twist Pose
This variation of a seated pose gives both partners a spinal twist stretch. Both partners also build into more postural strength and receive the benefits of feeling their partner’s breath influence and deepen their own.
Begin sitting cross-legged and back to back with your partner. Use the support of your partner to sit up tall. If either partner feels uncomfortable in this seated position, you can try sitting up on a block or a blanket.
Both partners twist their bodies to the right. Your left hand connects with your right knee. Your right hand reaches back and connects with your partner’s left knee.
Once both partners have made this connection, begin breathing together. As you inhale, focus on sitting up taller. As you exhale, deepen into your twist. You can use your handholds to help rotate you further.
Hold for 5 breaths, then switch sides.
Savasana — Corpse Pose
Practicing with a partner can help deepen your relaxation and help you find a more centered and focused Savasana.
Place your mats side by side with one foot of spacing between them. Both partners lie on their backs. Partner A is on the left of Partner B.
Bring your feet out wide and rest your palms face up. Reach for your partner’s hand. There are a few variations you can try with your handhold. For more of a grounding benefit, place your palms face down with your partner’s hand on top. You can do the same position with your palms up, or you can interlace your fingers.
Close your eyes and take 10 slow breaths.
Enjoy integrating these postures into your practice! Try them with a variety of friends and loved ones, and enjoy the fun as you deepen your practice and connections.
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Having been a teacher’s assistant at over 50 yoga teacher trainings worldwide, Olivia May has a firm grasp on the fine art of yoga and meditation. In her work, she carefully reflects on a vast expanse of knowledge to help others find peace in both body and mind.