“OK yogis – trust your partner and go get into handstand from crow!” our perky teacher training assistant demanded. I took a good look at my partner and thanked God, Buddha, Allah, and anyone else in the Heavens above for sending me a 6 foot 3 muscular dude with no chance of dropping me.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having an initial fear of whether my partner could safely guide me into this new and scary shape. Or worse, whether I could get him there without creating a human demolition scene (hope you’ve been putting in quality time on your hands, mister). And truth be told, I never liked working with a partner in yoga class. I mean, you go get your flow on, and leave mine well alone already!
But at my recent weeklong power yoga immersion, I had to let that go. And I am so glad I did. We explored trust on many levels – partner work in poses ranging from the ‘I got this’ end of the spectrum to ‘not in this lifetime’; sharing personal stories; and practicing and teaching for long stretches that took us to (and in some cases well beyond) our yogi edge.
Trusting – both yourself and your partner – factors into just about every decision and action we take in life, and if we open ourselves up to it, amazing things can happen and you can enhance your practice and your life:
1. You’ll Nail That Pose
You can’t do everything yourself, dear yogi. And your loving teacher can’t always make her way to your mat at that crucial moment when you are just dying to pop up into handstand. That’s where partner work comes in. It’s a simple math equation – a 1 to however many yogis are in the room chance of getting help into a scary pose becomes a guaranteed shot at it with the help of your partner.
2. You’ll Discover a New Way To Flow
I know, I know. The last thing you want after a long day at work is for an overeager teacher to throw a monkey wrench into your sweet flow with some silly partner charade. But twist your mind around this idea instead: how many opportunities do you have in your day-to-day routine do you get to explore trust and put your life into another sweet yogi’s hands? This is super powerful, and a fast track to connecting with someone else who shares the same passion for this age-old beautiful discipline that you do. Just try finding that kind of opportunity in line at a Starbucks. Shared passions for Grande lattes just don’t go that deep.
3. You’ll Go From Yogi Wall Flower To Yogi-Lebrity
Allow your yogi partner to give you a little boost, and all of a sudden you get to rock that pose typically reserved for Yoga Journal cover models. Hint: pack your camera to capture the moment!
4. You Get To Make Another Yogi Feel Like A Yogi-Lebrity
Who doesn’t want that? To get a yogi into an unthinkable (to them, anyway) posture and witness an immediate transformation in their self-worth and sense of empowerment?
5. You’ll Exert More Energy
That pose you normally go half-assed at in your typical flow will suddenly get a giant injection of effort when you know your partner is taking part of the load. We’re yogis after all, and naturally want to minimize as much suffering toward others as possible. In this case, our partners! Practice this way and watch in awe as your practice grows stronger. That pose you used to hate might just become a favorite.
6. You’ll Embody The Essence Of Yoga
Yoga literally means ‘to yoke’. Working with a partner requires you to give of yourself and trust another human being. And I can’t think of a safer, more loving place to explore that opportunity than in your supportive yoga class.
Title image source: YogaTrail.com