Yoga is a practice that has been revered for hundreds of years, and recently has come into something of a renaissance. In our hustle and bustle culture, taking the time to breathe, stretch, and be present in our bodies in a gentle and non-judgmental way can be very beneficial.
And, more and more, people are bringing partners into their yoga practices.
Couples yoga can be a great way for you to connect more strongly with your partner. Couples yoga poses require a great deal of trust and cooperation, and learning to move together in this way can be a powerful connection tool.
Read on to discover some of the best couples yoga poses, ranging from beginner level to advanced.
Seated cat-cow is one of the simplest and most relaxing couples yoga poses. If you and your partner are starting out on couples yoga, this is a great place to start. It can also be great if one or both of you work at a desk, because it helps to stretch out your back.
Sit cross-legged on the floor facing your partner and grasp onto each others’ arms, holding the other’s forearms. Together, draw your chin towards your chest, rounding your backs and gazing towards your navels. After a breath, straighten back up, opening your chests, arching your backs and lifting your hearts skywards.
Repeat this for several minutes, paying attention to your breath and the stretch and flex of your muscles.
Seated Spinal Twist
The seated spinal twist is another great beginner pose for those who may have back pain. This twist will help stretch your lower back, which can get very sore during long hours at a desk. You can start from the same seated position as you were in for the seated cat-cow pose.
Sitting across from your partner, cross your arms and grasp each others’ hands. Slowly, begin to pull in opposite directions, each of you twisting in opposite directions.
Use your grip on your partner’s hands to deepen the stretch, and after a breath, release back to center and twist the opposite direction.
During these stretches, make sure to move slowly and never yank on one another. You want to ease into and out of these stretches to avoid straining muscles.
Bound Angle Pose
The bound angle pose works similarly to the cat-cow pose in stretching your back and chest. You’ll start sitting back to back with your partner, sitting up straight. Tuck your legs into lotus pose, placing the bottoms of your feet together and letting your knees fall out to either side.
To begin the pose, one person will stretch forward as in the seated cat-cow pose, drawing the chin towards the chest and gazing towards the navel. As the first person moves forward, the second will arch back, letting their arms fall out to the side and lifting their heart to the sky.
After a breath, switch poses, the first person arching back as the second person curls forward.
Boat pose is a slightly more advanced pose that will require a fair amount of balance and trust in your partner.
It will stretch the hamstrings and calves and can be great for strengthening the core and lower back. You’ll start by sitting on the floor facing your partner, with about a half-leg length between you.
Reach on the outside of your legs and grab your partner’s hands, making sure you have a firm grip. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet against those of your partner, working to find a balance on your sit bones. Slowly, start to straighten your legs, pushing your feet towards the sky until you are both in a v-sit position, holding onto each others’ hands.
When your legs are all the way extended, make sure to draw in your core and straighten your lower back. Turn your gaze upward, and focus on your balance and breath in the pose.
Partner Forward Fold
If you and your partner aren’t quite ready to tackle boat pose, partner forward fold can be a good stepping stone. This pose will stretch the inside of your legs, which can be helpful for a variety of other poses.
Start by sitting across from your partner with your legs straight out and spread wide in front of you.
Scoot forward until your feet are touching your partner’s and your legs are spread as wide as they will go. Grasping onto your partner’s forearms, slowly bend forward, your partner gently pulling you forward as you go. Stretch as far forward as you can without hurting yourself, hold it for a breath, and then reverse your positions so your partner is the one stretching forward.
Repeat this pose a few times back and forth, paying attention to your breath and the stretch in your hamstrings.
Chair pose will require a close attunement with your partner and will help strengthen your quads. It’s similar to doing a wall sit, but with a partner.
You and your partner will start standing back to back with your feet hip-width apart; you can link arms for stability if you prefer.
Slowly, making sure you communicate with your partner the entire time, start to walk your legs out, bending your knees. Gradually, you will move into a seated position, as though you were in a chair.
You’ll need to push back against your partner to get the leverage to do this, which will require communication and trust.
Once you’re in a seated position, hold the pose for a few breaths or as long as you like. Then, slowly walk your feet back in and return to standing. With some practice, you may be able to do this without linking arms.
Double Downward Dog
Double downward dog is a more advanced pose that will require trust and strength on the parts of both parties. You will both be in downward dog, but one partner will have their feet on the other person’s back to form the pose.
Have one partner begin in the downward dog pose. The other partner will stand in front of the first person and place their hands on the floor a foot or so in front of the first person’s hands.
Slowly and carefully, the second person will place their feet on the first partner’s lower back, extending their hips up until they are in a modified handstand, with both partners in the downward dog position.
The double plank pose requires similar strength to the double downward dog pose. Like the downward dog pose, one partner will be holding a normal plank position while the other partner planks on top of them. (And no, we don’t mean like that internet meme that went around a few years ago.)
Begin by having one partner assume the plank position, arms straight and core engaged. Have the second partner grip their partner’s ankles and carefully place the tops of their feet on the first partner’s shoulders. This should leave the second partner in a plank position on top of the first partner.
Square and Wheel Pose
The square pose is similar to the double plank in the amount of strength and balance it requires from both partners. One partner will start sitting on the floor with their legs extended straight out in front of them, arms raised in the air.
The second partner will place their hands on the floor at the ends of the first partner’s feet and then place their ankles in the hands of the first partner, leaving them in a modified handstand and forming a square with their bodies.
A more advanced version of the square is called the wheel pose. The first partner, who had better have a lot of core and lower back strength, lies on their stomach on the floor and then lifts their torso up so their entire upper body is raised off the floor.
The second partner will move into a handstand and then extend their legs back until the first partner can catch them. The second partner in the wheel position will then move their hands to the ankles of the first partner, forming a wheel with their bodies.
The flying bow position is one of the most advanced couples yoga poses there is. One partner will start out laying on their back on the floor with their legs straight up in the air, feet flexed.
The top partner will place their hips on the first partner’s feet, leaning back until they are laying on top of the lower partner’s feet.
The lower partner should reach up and support the top partner’s shoulders while they get into this pose. The top partner, once situated, can bend their knees and reach back towards their ankles, grasping onto each foot and forming the bow pose.
If both partners are stable and comfortable, the lower partner can release the top partner’s shoulders, forming the flying bow position.
Find More Couples Yoga Poses
Couples yoga can have many benefits for participants, whether they’re romantic or platonic partners.
All of these poses require communication, cooperation, and trust. Engaging in the mindfulness of yoga and connecting with your partner on such a physical level can bring you closer together and help strengthen your relationship.
If you’d like to discover more yoga tips and resources, check out the rest of our website at I’m Centered. We have resources for beginner and advanced yoga practitioners alike.