Partner Yoga: A Deeper Connection or Just Another Money Grab?
Written by Amanda Whittal.
Does your general perception of yoga include an intense individual practice guided by introspection, heavy breath work and meditation? If so, congratulations, for somewhere in your line of thinking you have grasped a least some of the essence of yoga. Why then, is this 'solitary' ancient art gaining increasing popularity as a partner activity?
More and more areas are marketing it as a great way both for singles to partner with and explore new people, and for couples to explore each other.
Can this still truly be considered yoga?
The answer, I would say, is a resounding yes. As a committed student and instructor of yoga, the most significant aspect of this practice that I have learned and continue to teach, is that the definition of yoga is 'union'. The deepest intention of the practice is not a physically fit body, or astonishing flexibility (though these can be pleasant side effects), but rather a connection with oneself on the purest level of existence. It serves to increase our awareness of, and connection to, the wisdom that resides within each and every one of us.
Knowing this, consider working with a partner during the practice. You are no longer only exploring this truth and wisdom of your own being, but also that of another. If you are meeting someone for the first time, you are being introduced to who they truly are. You are bypassing the masks we wear and roles we play in day-to-day living to see the heart behind it all, and seeing that person for who they are.
If you are entering the practice with a lover or close friend, you are expanding your relationship to a deeper level. You are embracing the opportunity to explore each other more openly and honestly than you may have experienced before, establishing a connection that is more authentic and intense than most of us know to be possible.
In either situation, you are growing and stepping into your full mental, emotional, spiritual and physical potential, only this time, you are not doing it alone; you are incorporating the joy of another's presence.
Our North American view of life maintains an individualistic perspective. We pride ourselves on being independent and 'making it in the world' on our own. We value self-expression and uniqueness. While these are undoubtedly precious character traits, we tend to minimize or forget the equal importance of connection to others.
Stephen Cope, renowned psychotherapist and yogi, describes it well. He reminds us that we are interrelated beings, put on this earth together. We were meant to interact, and while we're each here on our own journey, we don't have to do it all alone. In fact, we shouldn't. There are many situations in which we need the support of others, another perspective, or simply someone to laugh with. Most of us have felt, at some point in our lives, the astounding power of a connected relationship to amplify our experience of a given situation. Yoga is no different. On the contrary, to deepen our yoga practice, possibly the best thing to do is involve another individual. Suddenly you will experience the practice in different ways, see things you never saw before, feel things you didn't feel before, etc.
In essence, then, the current popularity of partner yoga is not only beneficial to singles looking to meet like-minded people, or couples looking for a new and fun outing together, but it also opens the door to an entirely new range of possibilities within your yoga practice. In other words, give partner yoga a try. It's fun and new, and with its plethora of benefits, you really can't go wrong ;)
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