Last week I participated in partner yoga for the first time at Soul Yoga. My husband and I have a very strong partner meditation practice. We meditate together every week and we do a dyad practice with repeated questions. We often go on meditation retreats together and we even teach meditation together. However, we do not have a movement practice that we consistently do as a couple. I have a personal yoga practice and he has a Qigong practice but in general we do not do them together.
One reason my husband prefers not to do yoga is that it can be a little intense if you haven’t already built up some flexibility. He prefers movement practices that are gentler. However, he saw that a yoga studio where we teach meditation was offering a couples yoga class and suggested that we go together. I loved the idea of finding yet another spiritual practice that we could do together. Every time we expand our practices and work together it makes us feel closer. Working together in meditation usually increases our intimacy and leaves me feeling grateful to have someone in my life who is so growth oriented.
When we arrived to the partner yoga class we put our mats next to each other and settled in. I was a little bit unsure about what to expect. However, I was excited for whatever the journey was going to be. The practice started with us facing each other sitting with our legs crossed. The instructor told everyone to try to breathe with their partners. My husband and I each put a hand on each others chest. I could feel his rise with the inhale and fall with the exhale. After a few short exercises that oriented us to couples practice it got into some higher intensity poses.
The focus of the poses was on creating balance with your partner. There was also the suggestion to use their weight as a counter to your own and for deeper stretching. One of the best parts about it was that my husband knows my body and I know his. Rather than attempting anything that might cause injury or too much strain we were able to know when we needed to back off. At one point while doing a stretch I pulled him a little farther than he could go. The result was that it hurt his neck. However, because I was his partner and it was not a teacher who had pushed him he was able to tell me “that was too much, we need to slow down”. Because I care about him so deeply I was able to listen and adjust.
The whole class was about listening to my partner’s body and trying to cultivate some external mindfulness about his experience. I got to know his body in new ways and follow his breath more closely than I ever had before. Additionally, it was fun. It was a lighthearted practice where we got to enjoy the others company. The practiced required my full attention so I got to spend some quality time with my husband. Rather than being next to him on my phone or watching TV I got to actually be with him.
The end of the yoga class started much as it had began. We once again sat facing each other and feeling the breath of the other person. My feeling at the end of class was noticeably different than it was when we started. I felt even closer to my husband after doing this practice together. Sometimes it is amazing to me that there is anything we can do that actually makes me feel closer to him after all of this time together. Then we do something new where we are really trying to grow together and I feel an even deeper connection with him.
My experience with partner yoga reminded me of how important a movement practice is. So many people think of meditation as just being something that we do with our eyes closed while sitting on a cushion. The truth is that it is so much more. Yoga is without a doubt a great movement practice. It allows you to cultivate concentration, kindness, and awareness. The couples practice forced me to cultivate these qualities even more deeply than usual.
It is also important to note that a couples yoga practice is helpful for all couples. We don’t need to get to the point of where there is a problem in a relationship before we try to grow together. Instead if you are focusing on growing together all the time the strength you cultivate will be there in hard times as well. It is a beautiful thing to do something with your partner just because you will enjoy the time together.
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