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Yoga with a Partner Workshop

Saturday, April 2, 2005 2-4pm

These are some notes from the workshop taught on April 2, 2005. Note that not all of the postures were practiced during the workshop due to lack of time! Many of these notes, exercises and postures are taken from "Partner Yoga: Making Contact for Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Growth" by Cain Carroll and Lori Kimata. Please also remember that these are notes and are not complete instructions for each of the postures! Be cautions and check-in with your partner often!

When working with a partner, remember to communicate!!!

  • All things are interdependent
  • Touch and intimacy are basic human needs
  • Fear and pain are two of lifeís greatest teachers
  • Exercise and rest are essential for vibrant health
  • Laughter and play are lifeís fountain of youth
  • Partnership is based on trust and communication
  • Breath is life

Why practice partner yoga?

  • Cultivating touch
  • Increasing fitness
  • Having fun
  • Relaxing
  • Strengthening relationships

Breath Explorations

Feeling the breath ≠ becoming aware of your breathing

  • Sit facing your partner in a comfortable position
  • Close your eyes and begin observing your breath
  • Is your breathing shallow or deep?
  • Rapid or slow?
  • Relax and let yourself breathe naturally without altering your breath. Take 2-5 minutes.
  • Open your eyes and share responses to some of these questions:
    • Where in your body do you feel the breath?
    • Where do you notice the most movement?
    • Describe the rate of your breath
    • Describe the length of your breath
    • Describe the depth of your breath
    • Describe the quality of your breath
    • Describe the overall feel or texture of your breath

Synchronized Breathing

  • Sit back to back with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Press your back gently against your partnerís back, making a connection along the entire back side of your body
  • Adjust your posture until you are equally supported by and supporting your partner
  • Bring your palms together and rest the thumbs against the chest/heart
  • Close your eyes and begin to tune in to your own breath
  • Feel your ribs rise and fall against your hands
  • Feel your back expand and contract against your partnerís
  • Begin to notice how your partner is breathing, taking note of the rate, depth and sound
  • Begin to adjust your breathing pattern to match your partnerís, meeting somewhere in the middle where you feel comfortable.
  • Stay relaxed.


  1. Chair ≠ warm up calves/thighs; increases awareness of body position and balance; repeat 3 times
    • From standing, shake out feet/ankles.
    • Place feet hip-width apart, raise arms to shoulder height, palms down
    • Inhale, lengthen spine, rise up on toes.
    • Exhale, bend knees, take three breaths
    • Come up slowly to standing
  2. Grand plie ≠ warm up knees/hips/thighs; increases awareness of shoulders, arms, hands; repeat 3 times
    • Feet about 3í apart, raise arms to shoulder height, palms down
    • Inhale, expand chest, lengthen arms
    • Exhale, bend knees, come into squat, hold for three breaths
    • Return to starting position
  3. Knee lift ≠ warm up hips/thighs; increases awareness of balance/grace, repeat 10 times each side
    • Start on right leg, lifting left leg. The left hand is over the knee, imagine a connection of a string between hand/knee.
    • Inhale, lift hand/knee until thigh is parallel to floor
    • Exhale, release
  4. Small and Large hip circles ≠ warm up hips/buttocks/lower back; increases awareness of pelvic region; repeat 10 times each direction
    • For small, feet about 2í apart, hands on hips
    • For large, feet about 3í apart, knees bent
  5. Standing cat/cow ≠ warm up spine/chest/shoulders/abdomen; increases awareness on muscles that support neck/spine; repeat 10 times
    • Feet shoulder-width apart, bend knees, hands to hips
    • Inhale; tip pelvis forward arching lower back. Chest and ribs open, shoulders relaxed
    • Exhale, tuck tailbone and bow the spine
  6. Side stretch ≠ warm up arms/shoulders; increases awareness on ribs/intercostal muscles (muscles along the side of the body); repeat 5 times each side
    • Feet shoulder-width apart, lengthen spine
    • Inhale, lift arm up
    • Exhale, stretch up and over to the side. Open ribs and expand, lengthen side of body
    • Inhale to center
    • Exhale, move to other side
  7. Archer ≠ warm up upper back/shoulders; increases awareness of chest/ribs and muscles involved in twisting; repeat 10 times each side
    • Feet shoulder-width apart, palms together in front of body, arms parallel to floor
    • Inhale, create length in spine
    • Exhale, rotate to the right, drawing back with right arm
    • Inhale, extend right arm forward as you rotate left, drawing back with left arm
    • Continue back and forth, imagining yourself as an archer drawing back the string of a giant bow
  8. Arms of air - warm up shoulders/forearms/wrists/hands; increases awareness of body/breath connection; take 1 minute
    • Arms in front of body, parallel to floor
    • Flex and extend wrists
  9. Neck - warm up neck/throat; releases tension in shoulder/neck
    • Face partner
    • Chin to chest, then sky
    • Head right to left
    • Ear to shoulder, each side
  10. Sun/Moon union ≠ increases awareness of breath/movement connection. Create unity among opposing forces.
    • Touch thumb forefinger
    • Inhale, raise arms forward and up.
    • When hands are just above the eyes, touch fingertips. Imagine joining forces of the sun (right hand) and moon (left hand).
    • Exhale, turn palms up, float arms down. Let arms descend with the breath.
    • Repeat three times.


  1. Anusara hamstring: focus on strength and flexibility
    • Partner one is on floor, on their back
    • Partner two stands in a warrior 1 stance and raises partner's leg until resistance is met; support leg at ankle
    • Partner one presses leg into partner two
    • Partner one relaxes and partner two increases pressure on partner one, stretching hamstring
  2. Squats
    • Opposite arms, clasp wrists, hips/shoulders at same level, head down
    • Cross (same) arms, clasp wrists, stretch shoulders, each side
    • Opposite arms, clasp wrists, hindu squat (deep)
    • Transition to floor, facing one another
  3. Boat ≠ stretch hamstrings, tone abdomen
    • Feet flat, toes against partnerís
    • Link hands/wrists
    • Lengthen spine
    • Exhale, straighten one leg (keep knees bent if needed), feet toward sky
    • Find balance
    • Exhale, straighten other leg
    • Arms parallel to ground, spine lengthened, left from chest, relax abdomen
    • Release one leg at a time
  4. Down dog ≠ contraindications: high blood pressure, stroke
    • Give partner the adjustment by applying pressure on hips, raising tailbone, stretching back of legs and lengthening spine. Take weight out of partner's arms.
    • Double dog, if desired
  5. Triangle
    • Stand back-to-back, feet 3-4í apart
    • Touch hands, wrists or forearms, raise arms parallel to floor
    • Turn foot (feet) to one side, relax shoulders
    • Reach to side of turned foot, lower same hand down, raise other hand up
    • Cross lower arm with partner, supporting legs
    • Reach for the sky
    • Back and hips pressed together
    • Return to center
    • Repeat on other side
  6. Warrior II
    • Stand back-to-back, feet 3-4í apart
    • Touch hands, wrists or forearms, raise arms parallel to floor, palms together
    • Turn foot (feet) to one side, relax shoulders
    • Exhale, bend knee, thigh parallel to ground, shin perpendicular
    • Look over front hand
    • Return to center
    • Repeat on other side
  7. Side Angle
    • Stand back-to-back, feet 3-4í apart
    • Move into side lunge (hands on floor or block, on inside of front leg)
    • Thigh parallel to floor, shin perpendicular
    • Lengthen through the heel of back foot
    • Press shoulder of inside arm against inside of bent leg
    • Inhale, rotate torso upward, lift outside arm to sky
    • Connect hands
    • Look up, reach arm over ear
    • Lengthen
    • Return to center
    • Repeat on other side
  8. Tree
    • Stand hip-to-hip, feet about 1í apart
    • Reach arm around partnerís waist, connect hips
    • Lift outside leg, place foot against shin or thigh
    • Join palm of free hand. Breathe.
    • Return to center
    • Repeat on other side
  9. Table ≠ opens shoulders/chest, releases tightness in back of legs
    • Stand facing partner, about 2í apart
    • Link arms just above elbows. Slowly bend forward while taking small steps away from each other
    • Bring tops of heads together, slide hands to partnerís shoulders
    • Lengthen spine, flatten back by extending bottom away from head
    • Exhale, relax shoulders, allow chest and ribs to open toward floor
    • Breathe smooth and deep
    • Back remains parallel to floor, legs perpendicular to floor
  10. Fountain
    • Stand facing partner about 1í apart
    • Hold wrists, firm yet relaxed
    • Inhale, gently lengthen spine, begin to lean (arch) back
    • Lift from sternum, allow tailbone to drop
    • Press hips toward partner, deepen backbend on exhale
    • Relax into pose
    • Move out slowly
  11. Half Moon
    • Partner 1: Mountain pose, facing away from Partner 2. Bend forward, left left leg behind, lower hands to floor.
    • Partner 2: Catch the lifted ankle (knees are bent), slowly rise up, hold foot at chest.
    • Partner 1: Bring right hand in front of right foot, rotate body up. Align. Lift left arm to sky. Lengthen chest and back.
    • Partner 2: Make sure left foot, knee, hip and shoulder are in same line and that standing leg is perpendicular to floor.
    • Partner 1: Exhale, lower left arm to ear and extend through fingertips.
    • Partner 2: Inhale, lengthen spine, lift partnerís foot. Exhale; tuck tailbone, lift chest, arch back.
    • Breathe smoothly
    • Repeat on other side
    • Repeat with partner
  12. Cobra (two variations)
    • Partner 1: Come into cobra, hands clasped behind back (use strap if needed). Radiate from chest, lift up
    • Partner 2: Stand over partner, feet near shoulders, squat down, place hands on partnerís shoulders. Lift forward and up.
    • Partner 1: Relax shoulders, press shoulder blades together, soften heart

    • Partner 1: Lie face down, legs together, hands at sides
    • Partner 2: Stand over partner, feet parallel to legs, near hips or buttocks
    • Partner 2: Bend knees, hold partnerís wrists, begin to lift gently
    • Partner 1: Relax, lengthen spine
    • Partner 2: Begin to stand slowly. Assist partnerís torso to lift off ground. Let partner one do most of the lifting
    • Partner 1: Tuck tailbone, press hips forward, gently arch back
    • Partner 2: Tuck tailbone, press hips into floor, lengthen spine
    • Come out slowly, rest before switching positions
  13. Seated Forward Bend
    • Sit facing partner, soles of feet touching (may need to bend knees)
    • Inhale, lengthen spine/neck
    • Exhale bend slowly forward from hips
    • Reach partnerís hands/wrists/forearms (use strap if needed)
    • Maintain length in spine and relax forward into pose
    • Release hands, bend knees, come up slowly
  14. Sit Back-to-Back
    • Partner one: legs straight
    • Partner two: knees bent, head rests on partnerís upper back
    • Partner one moves into forward bend, partner two moves into back bend

Thai Yoga Massage

Ancient style of massage with roots in Ayeurvedic medicine. Incorporates a series of passive yoga-like stretches along with a gentle palm pressure technique applied in a rhythmical, rocking manner. Very soothing and meditative. Emphasis is not on the intellect but on feeling. Breath is used during the massage: belly, ribs, and back, expanding.

Coordinate breath, use pressure on exhale, donít press directly on spine or joints, use the entire body, rocking back and forth, watch the neck, keep the spine in alignment. Check in often with partner and watch the pressure in each of the massages.

  1. Sole press feet
    • Partner is on belly.
    • Stand facing partner.
    • Use toes. Or face away and use heels. Or kneel on the foot.
    • Check in often
    • Full weight can be used without worrying too much
  2. Palm press legs
    • Keep arms straight, use weight of body
    • Gentle press on back of knees
    • Full pressure on rest of body
  3. Stretch feet to buttocks
    • Cross partnerís feet at ankles
    • Bend knees
    • Press feet toward bottom
    • Pressing on tops of fee helps with tight ankles
  4. Stand and palm press shoulders
    • Partner is seated
    • Press downward on the neck/shoulder finding the best spots!
  5. Interlace fingers and squeeze neck
    • Use the heel of the hands to apply pressure
  6. Massage temples and scalp
    • Be gentle, especially around the temple

Closing: Thank your partner!


Mary Esther Middleton

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