By Jessica Estrada for Well + Good.
Couples yoga might conjure images of cheesy Bachelor-type dates—or, for the less dextrous among us, a trip to your local urgent care center. But you don’t need to be an ex-Cirque du Soleil cast member to try a few gentle couples yoga poses, and doing yoga with your partner can be an enriching experience for you both.
During a couple’s yoga flow, you connect physically (sometimes literally holding each other up), stay focused on the moment, and encourage each other’s growth. It’s a great way to cultivate connection and intimacy, strengthen your emotional bond, and serve as quality time together while nourishing your minds, bodies, and souls. Plus, there’s the added accountability factor (gotta love a workout buddy!) that’s always nice.
Ready to give couples yoga a go? Below, find 5 couples yoga poses that will bring you and your S.O. a little closer—literally.
1. Partner Butterfly Pose
“This pose is a wonderful way to reduce stress and induce the relaxation response in your body,” says Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine, a platform that trains yoga teachers. “At the same time, you can feel the energy and support of your partner doing the same, which further amplifies the emotional benefits of the pose.”
To get started, you and your partner should sit on the mat with your backs up against each other and your spines straight. Bring the soles of your feet together and knees apart. Keep your feet closer or further from your body, depending on your flexibility. “Bring your attention to your breath and slowly start to deepen your inhales and exhales for an inhale count of four and exhale count of five,” Cruikshank says. “Repeat this for five to 10 rounds of breath.” You can also modify the pose by sitting with your legs crossed if the butterfly pose is uncomfortable.
2. Partner Seated Forward Fold
The partner forward fold pose is an opportunity to connect with your partner while also getting a good stretch. To set up for the pose, sit down with your backs against each other, and your legs stretched out in front of you. “Decide who will be stretching forward first, and while one of you reaches towards your toes, the other can lie back, using their weight to get you deeper into the stretch,” Cruikshank says. “Stay here for a few breaths, breathing into the hamstrings, then switch roles.”
3. Supine Twist
The only thing more delicious than a supine twist is a couple’s supine twist. “This supported twist gently massages the spinal nerves along each side of the spine that innervate and regulate the organs and the muscles,” Cruikshank says. “It’s both rejuvenating and relaxing and is a really efficient and effective pose when you are short on time. You can think of it as either wringing out the day together or preparing both of you for the day ahead.”
Ready to twist? Lie down on your backs next to each other. Leave a foot or two of space between you and your partner. Next, bend your knees in toward your chest and then bring your legs to one side and let them rest on the floor. You can make it comfy by putting pillows or blankets under your knees. The key to a good twist is keeping your back and shoulders flat on the ground and locking your partner’s arms for support. Stay in this pose for two to three minutes and then repeat on the other side.
4. Partner Savasana
Savasana, aka everyone’s favorite stress-busting yoga pose, can also be done as a duo. “While some people may overlook this final relaxation pose, it’s important for you to give your body this time for the nervous system to integrate the mental and physical effects of the practice,” Cruikshank says. “It’s also a really valuable way to increase vagal tone, which is associated with better stress resilience, while giving greater heart rate variability and cardiac health, improved digestion, and everything else that is influenced by a lowered stress response.”
To get your savasana on as a twosome, lie down on your backs and hold your partner’s hand, keeping it nice and relaxed. “Give yourself five to 10 minutes here, and allow yourselves to enjoy the deep relaxation that this pose brings,” Cruikshank says. “You will sense the physical and energetic connection between you and your partner.”
5. Meditation Pose
Cruikshank recommends incorporating a moment of meditation into your couples yoga flow, which can help you both reap benefits such as reduced stress, increased mental clarity, and a boosted overall well-being.
Start by sitting side by side in a cross-legged position and hold hands. “Make it more comfortable by placing a folded blanket or cushion underneath you to support, and lift your hips as high as your knees,” Cruikshank says. “Set a timer for two to 10 minutes, adjusting for how much time and experience with meditation that you and your partner have.”
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