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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 November 12, 2020

                        Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

                        Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

                        If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                        If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                        In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                        What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                        If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                        Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                        • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
                        • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
                        • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                        • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
                        • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                        • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
                        • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                        Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

                        Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                        Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

                        1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
                        2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                        3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                        The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                        Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                        You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

                        Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

                        If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

                        Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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                        Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

                        Symptoms of fatigue include:

                        • Difficulty concentrating
                        • Low stamina
                        • Difficulty sleeping
                        • Anxiety
                        • Low motivation

                        These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                        Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                        How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                        The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                        Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                        Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

                          The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                          Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                          Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

                          If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                          It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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                          4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                          Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                          1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                          2. Exercising regularly
                          3. Using stressbusters
                          4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                          After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                          I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                          Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                          • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
                          • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
                          • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                          • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                          The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

                          Living Healthy

                          Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

                          In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

                          As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                          Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                          1. Unplug

                          Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

                          Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                          2. Unwind

                          Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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                          3. Get Comfortable

                          Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                          Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                          Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

                          This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                          Exercise

                          Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                          That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

                          I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

                          If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                          Attitude

                          Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                          When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

                          But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

                          Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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                          1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
                          2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
                          3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
                          4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
                          5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
                          6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

                          This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                          When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

                          Nutrition

                          Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                          If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

                          Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                          Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                          1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                          2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
                          3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
                          4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
                          5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                          6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
                          7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
                          8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
                          9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

                          Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                          That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                          Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

                          The Bottom Line

                          If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

                          If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

                          Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                          More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

                          Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                          [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                          [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                          [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                          [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
                          [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
                          [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                          [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                          [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
                          [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                          [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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