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11 Partner Yoga Poses for Couples to Build Intimacy

11 Partner Yoga Poses for Couples to Build Intimacy

Our partners are mirrors to our true self. By embracing a partner yoga practice with one another, we not only lean on each other for support – literally and metaphorically – but we also exercise our vulnerability with one another.

Science has found that by doing so, we’re strengthening our social connections and relationships, which leads to longer lives, healthier habits, reduced stress, and a deeper sense of life meaning.[1]

So how does yoga help with this exactly? In Sanskrit, “yoga” comes from the word yuj, meaning “to yoke” or “to unite”.[2] It’s only appropriate to mirror that definition with a partner, and in essence, begin to unite two people as a whole. Partner yoga also has its roots in building trust and communication, which are cornerstones of a healthy, intimate, and successful relationship.

Let’s break down some poses for a deeper dive:

1. Breathing Together

    A great yoga practice begins with the breath. It’s a simple yet powerful way of connecting to your own body and noticing any sensations that arise.

    Find a seated position with your partner, your backs touching. With eyes closed, tune into you breathing, and begin to deepen the inhales and the exhales.

    You will feel the rise and fall of your partner’s breathing, as you tune into each other’s rhythms. See if you can still maintain your own breath, even when it becomes tempting to mirror the breathing of your partner; allow this rhythm to lull you deeper into becoming present and aware of each other’s space.

    Even in unity, you honor your own body and breath, and that honor extends outward to your partner. With this life force – prana [3] – you’re able to find a richer connection to each other with a simple act of breathing.

    Do this exercise for 3-5 minutes, or as long as it is comfortable.

    2. Partner Twist

      A twist is a great natural detox for the body. When the torso is twisted in the opposite direction, the movement acts as a wringing action for the internal organs, and via an exhale, built-up toxicity can be eliminated from the body.[4]

      With your backs touching, take a deep breath in. As you exhale, gently twist, going in the opposite direction of each other. Take one hand and place it on your opposite knee, with the other hand reaching back for your partner’s. Use a yoga strap if this is not available.

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      Allow the breathing to once again sync you with your partner’s rhythm, and notice what it’s like to have the support of your partner’s hand to help ease a little deeper into the twist.

      Stay in the twist for 5 full breaths, and then switch sides.

      3. Backbend/Forward Fold

        While your backs are still touching, communicate who will fold forward and who will come into a backbend. You’ll have a chance to switch sides.

        The person folding forward will reach their hands forward and either rest their forehead down on the mat, or place it on a block for support. The person doing a backbend will lean back on their partner’s back and open the front of their heart and chest. Breathe deeply here, and see if you can feel each other’s breaths again.

        In yoga, the heart is thought of as the place in front and back of your chest, as it’s the same area opening. So in this pose, even though you’re doing the opposite move, your hearts are still connected. Think about how that translates to your relationship off the mat.

        Stay in this pose for 5 full breaths, and switch when you’re both ready.

        4. Soul Gazing

          This exercise is deeply personal and nourishing, as you sit facing your partner, gently gazing into their eyes.

          Rest your hands on their knees or in their hands, and allow them to do the same. This will further connect you with the power of touch. Once you’re settled (and the giggles have subsided from direct eye contact), begin to truly see your partner.

          In the chaos of our days and weeks, we don’t often get the chance to sit down and take in the person with whom we share our life. Gently gaze and take in your partner’s features, uniqueness, and energy, and allow them to see you in return. Not only is this centering for the rest of your practice, it’s also deeply loving and compassionate.

          Stay in this exercise for 5 minutes or longer, if you both feel tuned in.

          5. Seated and Supported Cat/Cow

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            From a seated position, reach for your partner’s forearms and interlace.

            As you inhale, arch your back and lift your heart to the sky, maybe even lifting the gaze to expose and open the throat. As you exhale, round the spine and pull back, using the resistance of each other’s arms as support, bringing the gaze inward toward your chest.

            Repeat the movements 3-5 times, or as long as you feel comfortable.

            Allow this support from your partner to begin to build trust and surrender, as well as communication. Speak out to what feels good in this pose, and ask your partner the same.

            While the pose is done in tandem, your experience of it in your own body is going to vary. Take this time to share those sensations, and become curious of your partner’s.

            6. Seated and Supported Forward Fold

              In relationships, we know that we don’t have to do everything on our own. We have our best ally in our corner to help us out.

              Likewise in this pose, come into a wide-legged seat with the soles of your feet touching. Reach the arms forward and interlace, and then take turns gently pulling one another closer past middle, using each other as resistance in this Forward Fold. Stay here for 5 full breaths each.

              While this pose is a deep stretch, maybe opt for more of a playful approach! If laughter comes naturally or someone cracks a joke, go along!

              Find fun in working out and being with one another. It’s a surefire way to relieve any stress or tension, and remind each other of the simpler things that bring you both some more smiles.

              7. Partner Boat Pose

                When it comes to postures that are challenging, having a partner mirroring and supporting you can go a long way to giving you that extra boost of confidence and energy. And because they’re doing it with you, too, you can both share in the achievement of rocking this core-engaging posture.

                Start in a seated position, facing one another, a little further away to give enough room for extending the legs. When you’re ready, come into Boat pose one leg at a time, until the soles of your feet are touching.

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                Use them as resistance to further stabilize this pose. If available, reach for each other’s hands, and find each other’s gaze. Smile and breathe. Communicate how you’re feeling and root each other on for 5 full breaths.

                8. Double Downward Dog

                  Speaking of building trust, this pose will give you and your partner a chance to work together toward a common goal. This pose is also all about communication, and speaking your mind when you’re ready to come down or are feeling a sensation that you’d like to share with your significant other.

                  With your partner in traditional Downward Dog, set yourself up by coming into a Forward Fold at the top of the mat. Lifting one foot at a time, place your feet at the base of your partner’s spine. You may need to adjust your feet or walk your hands back once you get into this, to readjust.

                  Once in the pose, breathe there for 5 full breaths, before you switch. After you come out, touch base on how it felt and what you experienced. Share in the pose together by bringing in your specific perspective.

                  9. Reverse Warrior Partner Pose

                    If it’s not evident from the photo above, this pose is all about creating love – literally and symbolically.

                    Begin in Warrior Two facing away from each other, with the outside of your back foot touching. Allow this back foot connection to unite you together in the pose, building a shared foundation from which you can stabilize.

                    Take a deep breath in, and on an exhale, come into your Reverse Warrior by lifting one arm overhead and reaching back for your partner’s grasp, creating a heart shape in the middle of your joined pose. Use a yoga strap if catching your partner’s hand is not available.

                    Take your other hand and wrap it behind your waist. Settle your attention on your breathing and press into your partner’s foot as they do the same. Likewise, mirror the support of their hand in yours.

                    The love you create in your relationship is a two-way street. Remind yourself of all the wonderful ways in which you give and take to build that love. Take 5 full breaths here, and then release when you’re both ready.

                    10. Double Tree Pose

                      No man is an island, and likewise, no tree thrives without support.

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                      In this partner pose, begin in your own Tree, by lifting one leg and pressing the sole of the foot into the thigh or down lower on the calf.

                      When you’ve caught your balance, extend one hand to your partner’s and meet them, palms touching, in the center between your respective Tree postures. Take your other hand and reach it back behind your partner, giving them a loving embrace. Stay here for 5 full breaths before switching sides.

                      Even though your Tree pose is your own, find the center connection that brings you both together in unity.

                      Allow yourself to feel and appreciate the support you get from your partner, on and especially off the mat.

                      11. Standing Partner Backbend

                        Opening our hearts to each other is the most raw way of showing our vulnerability. That’s why this pose is so powerful in tandem. By using each other for support, you’re reassuring your partner that anything is possible (and better) when you have each other.

                        Start standing and facing each other, as you interlace each other’s forearms. Take a deep breath in as you hold each other’s gaze, and on an exhale, lean back to open your heart to the sky, using each other’s arms as resistance. Stay here for 5 full breaths, or as long as it’s comfortable for you both.

                        Release and end with a hug, honoring the space you’ve created for each other and yourself.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Partner yoga asks for vulnerability. Through the power of touch and synced breathing, we forge deeper and richer connections in our relationship with our partner.

                        The experiences we share together and individually in these yoga postures become topics of communication that can help us learn more about each other and ourselves, further growing our intimacy to heights never felt before.

                        Practice these poses with your partner whenever you are craving that bough of connection or intimacy. Challenge each other with postures that are both energizing and restorative, and tune into each other’s unique experiences for more wholesomeness in your relationship.

                        Featured photo credit: Victor Freitas via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        More by this author

                        Aleksandra Slijepcevic

                        Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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                        Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                        How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                        How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                        We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                        We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                        So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                        Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                        What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                        Boundaries are limits

                        —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                        Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                        Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                        Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                        Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                        How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                        Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                        1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                        Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                        You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                        To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                        You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                        • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                        • When do you feel disrespected?
                        • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                        • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                        • When do you want to be alone?
                        • How much space do you need?

                        You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                        2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                        Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                        Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                        3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                        Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                        That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                        Sample language:

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                        • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                        • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                        • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                        • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                        • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                        • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                        • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                        Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                        4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                        Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                        Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                        Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                        We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                        It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                        It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                        Final Thoughts

                        Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                        Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                        Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                        The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                        Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                        Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                        They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                        Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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