Partner or buddy asana practice is a great way to connect with your partner, friends or loved ones. There is something magical when we share the practice with others and receive support into the asanas.
Partner asana practice helps two people connect on a deeper level, cultivating patience with one another, trust and acceptance. Here are some asanas to practice together that help with physical balance and leg flexibility.
The half seated forward fold asana provides a great stretch to the hamstrings and glutes, and opens the inner thighs. To practice this together, come into a seated position facing one another, straighten the left leg joining your left soles of the feet. Bend the right knee and bring the right foot as close as possible to your pelvic area, abducting that right leg/thigh. Hold hands and take turns at the forward fold, whilst the other person is gently pulling you towards them.
Another great hamstrings and glutes stretch, the standing wide legged forward fold also strengthens the quadriceps and improves physical balance. Stands with your back against one another and take a wide step, opening the legs with your feet firm on the mat. Inhale and lengthen the spine, and as you exhale, forward fold bringing the crown of your head on the mat or toward the mat. Then take hold of each others elbows or hands (depending how deep you go into the asana) and look at each other. This is also an inversion, which boost blood circulation and energises the mind. This asana gives you both the opportunity to see the world upside down, sharing this experience together.
The seated wide legged forward fold provides similar benefits to the standing forward fold, without the aspect of finding balance on your feet. This one is a great hip opener and offers a lovely stretch to the spine and back muscles. Come into a seated position, facing one another and open the legs as far as you can. One person can place their soles of the feet on the others’ inner part of the ankles, hold hands and help the other person come into their forward fold by gently pulling them towards you holding the by their arms. At the same time, gently press your feet onto their ankles to help them open the inner thighs more.
This buddy asana practice variation is similar to the modification if downward facing dog practiced at the wall. This helps to strengthen the quadriceps, stretch the hamstrings, glutes, spine and back muscles and open the chest and shoulders.
The standing forward fold can be a challenging asana especially if you are experiencing stiffness in the hamstrings so take it easy. Stand with your backs against one another. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and forward told, bringing the navel towards the thighs. Some of you might be able to go down more, whilst others can practice ardha uttanasana, placing your hands on your shins and keeping your spine straight. If you can fold forward enough to take hold of your partner’s arms, do so.
The standing splits pose done as partner asana practice can be challenging. It requires physical balance and flexibility in the legs and inner thighs. If you are both comfortable with it, start facing one another and place your heel on the other person’s shoulder. To help each other maintain balance, hold hands on grab onto each other’s upper arm. If this asana is difficult for you both, practice it as a seated position (dandasana) and place your heels on each other’s shoulder.
Featured in the photos with me is @teri_kopoulos, Karate champion and calisthenics expert.