Partner yoga: The art of conscious play

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by Kali Ray Torres, Yoga Instructor

azfamily.com

Posted on September 16, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 16 at 3:30 PM

Partner yoga is most certainly a playful practice, one that will inspire you to grow beyond the binds of the mind and find your balance with your partner. When we are in relationship, whether it be to our mate, a close friend, or a family member, we make a huge investment when we send quality time together. We live in a busy world and it takes awareness to slow down with someone else and be fully present. The best part about practicing with a partner, is it can be a catalyst for deeper awareness about ourselves and the way we come to partnership. As we practice with a partner, we learn that the mid-line, which is usually down the center of the individual body, is the connection that we make with our partner. Our individual bodies unite to become one pose. We adapt to support the balance of opposing forces between our partners weight and our own. Hmmm, doesn't' that sound like relationship!?
 
Consider that every relationship in your life is a posture of awareness and inside of that awareness, you are meeting the world, all whom you interact with daily. Now consider that the connections you make where you are fully present and focused, where you work with your gifts and the gifts and abilities of others, to find a common ground; a place where you feel both supported and supportive. This is the art of playful balance in relationship. Throughout all of our experiences, we choose to either witness or judge. There's not much of a middle ground. We are either in a state of observation or analysis. These two opposing states of being are helpful for different reasons. For example, if you are about to cross the street and you see a car coming, you have the ability to analyze that situation and make a discriminating choice. Crossing the street would be against your primal defense to stay alive. Now take the same situation where you are balancing on one foot and you have a friend to help support you. This may change the experience a bit, causing you to stay grounded enough to hold your own weight, yet your partner may not be as experienced as you are, causing you to give a little more support than you are accustomed on your own. This giving and receiving or dynamic of supporting one another in partner yoga will show us were we over think and where we allow ourselves permission to just do, play, and explore! Sometimes a new experience will bring up old "shadow beliefs" or what we refer to in yoga as "samskaras." These beliefs about how you, your partner or how you may think things "should be" can be revealed and used to support deeper awareness and clearing. Simply saying, "that feels great," or "hug the mid-line a little, meet my pressure," changes the way we come to asking for what we need. Often times, that is what we are learning in partner yoga. We are learning how to use our voice even when we say nothing at all. What powerful practice with your partner! Over time, you will notice, you don't have to say much to know where your partner is "at." And when you do have a question, you have created a sacred space to open up and ask what's on your mind or heart. This coming to relationship empowered.
 
On a more personal note, I recently experienced something quite liberating when I went to a partner yoga practice. I found myself so focused on giving the instructions to my partner, that I forgot to just be, to listen and to allow myself to experience the other half of the posture, my partner! This is a huge awareness for me and has helped me see that you can only grow as much in yourself as you are willing to listen to the messages that are being sent to you through those you are in relationship with. In other words, if I have a tendency to find what needs to be changed in another, it is most likely that same critic that is working in my own self and in my own life. Do you get how profound that awareness is? Within minutes I saw how much energy I have spent my whole life trying to "get it right" or "get somewhere." The funniest part is, with partner yoga, the more you focus on feeling the alignment, the easier it is. If you over think anything, you have a recipe for being bound up and closed off or stiff.
 
Yoga with a partner can be a to playful spontaneous flow. This is where we are headed, into the realms of working together with both aspects. We learn the art, the dance of the Shiva and the Shakti, the form and the formless, the male and the female aspects of ones being. This is the "yug" or the union inside of the yoga. This is where we begin to see the union of ourselves with another and how we bring our awareness of the sacred space between us out into the world. One of my long-time teachers has said for years: "relationship is relationship," or relationship to ourselves is our relationship to the world, our partner, etc. Being conscious of your partner while practicing this series, will show you where you are growing both as individuals and as a team. Take it slow, there are so many ways you can practice partner yoga. If you are interested in learning more about partner yoga or classes in your area, please feel free to contact me directly at: www.youryogaexpert.org. This playful practice will support balance in relationship including: clean communication, compassionate touch, deeper intimacy, team work and so much more! The possibilities are endless. What would you like to create in conscious relationship to your partner? Whether you are starting yoga with your partner for the first time or simply want to mix it up a little more and try something new, I am sure you will enjoy this series. Be well and see you around the bend!

>> Learn more about partner yoga with Kali Ray

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