Learn how to teach this nine-pose partner sequence in a way that fosters balance, strength, and flexibility, while encouraging communication, trust and playfulness.
Partner Yoga explores conventional yoga poses in tandem with another person, which may sound fun to some students, but to others, it’s completely horrifying! In other words, teaching partner poses requires creativity, skillful execution and a healthy dose of playfulness.
In Partner Yoga, each partner acts as a feedback device, simultaneously giving support and receiving benefits. Much like a wall or block, one partner can help the other balance better, move into poses more deeply, and hold them longer. As said by Carl Jung, “Like any chemical reaction, when two things make contact, both are transformed.” These suggestions can help you transform your Partner Yoga class into a playful, creative opportunity to practice balance, flexibility, and connection.
Make sure your students know well in advance that you are planning to teach a Partner Yoga class (or that you will be incorporating partner poses into your usual class structure). Post it on your studio’s social media pages, announce it at the previous class, and share a little bit about what you plan to teach. Let them know that they can bring a friend along, if they wish, but it’s not necessary.
Your cues should help orient your students to one another (e.g., opening towards our partner); help position them within the pose with respect to their partner (e.g., allowing our back to find our partner’s), or help connect both individuals within the posture (e.g., linking hands with our partner). Cues that encourage connection and awareness between the partners can minimize chattiness and keep them focused.
Start with partner poses that are easy to achieve and that focus more on strength than flexibility. The key is for everyone to enjoy the process and not worry so much about a perfect outcome.
Remind your students that they’re practicing “for two.” Encourage them to give their partners feedback and, at the same time, be sensitive to their partner’s needs. Demonstrate the least tactile and most easily achievable version of a pose and have everyone try it. Give students permission to then move to a more difficult variation—but only if both partners are willing. As much as possible prompt people to pair up with partners who are similar in height and possibly weight to make poses easier for both of them.
As you practice the partner poses here, urge your students to take time to rest when needed. Depending on the pose, they can take a break by moving into any one of these resting poses: mountain pose, child’s pose, or easy seated pose.