“Human beings are fundamentally communal; our individuality is a product of community, and our choices are shaped by our being with others.” (Judith Plaskow)
We naturally crave connection and the power of yoga is multiplied by practicing together. Sure, we can practice yoga at home, but there is nothing quite like the energy shared in a group experience, breathing and sharing the space with a community of yogis.
Taking this power of community practice one step further is the practice of partner yoga. Partner does not have to mean romantic partner or even good friend…the benefits will reveal themselves, regardless.
Practicing partner yoga and facilitating partner yoga workshops, I continue to be amazed by what shows up for people. Remember those pesky grade school group projects? Some similar feelings can arise with partner yoga. Frustrations can surface, as well as a tug for control, a letting go of the small things to focus on collaboration, and a call for clear communication and trust.
Trusting goes hand in hand with letting go of control, especially if you are used to having things go your way.
Allowing another human being to fully hold you up, is a great first step to letting go, knowing you are not alone and that you can share some of life’s challenges with another person.
I have taught high school girls (you know, the catty, mean, darn right cruel kind?) to do partner yoga, switching partners with every pose. They were uncertain, but soon there were giggles and connection between girls who normally did not speak to one another. A sense of community was formed once they had experienced trusting each other and getting out of their comfort zone.
We place a lot of value on verbal communication, when in reality, our bodies, eyes, faces and hands communicate even more. Connecting with your partner without the distraction of work, phones, TV and excessive words, allows you to really see each other, connect and become closer.
Once I attended a class with a close friend of mine and remember being asked to sit face-to-face, knees touching and stare into each other's eyes for 10 minutes, without saying a word! After a few minutes of giggling, then finally sitting in silence, I had a profound realization that I had never truly seen my friend. We had always been talking or doing something, constantly bombarded by noise and distraction. A deep, silent connection occurred that forever shifted our friendship. Giving someone your unconditional and undistracted attention is a powerful gift.
Physical touch is healing. It is a nonverbal way of showing support for another human being. I had a yoga teacher who believed that people are drawn to yoga to be seen, heard and touched. In partner yoga, we use our partner's bodies to enhance a stretch or deepen a posture, as well as create more strength and stability together. What better way to connect with another person, while experiencing more freedom in your own body.
It is difficult to take yourself too seriously in a partner yoga class. These poses can seem silly and sometimes ridiculous. Sharing the experience with another human being fosters an environment of lightness, an invitation to be authentically you, and permission to play. Yes, grownups need to play too!
Upcoming Partner Yoga Offerings:
Sat, Feb 24th, 1:30-3pm Partner Yoga at Up Yoga
Sat, Feb 16th, 2-3:30pm Partner Yoga w/ Childcare at Blooma