For many, yoga is an intensely personal journey of individual growth. While the fundamental element of yoga is an internal unification of mind, body, and spirit, this personal development inherently has an effect on the world around us. The individual and the universe are braided together in a way that we cannot change one without changing the other. When we better ourselves, we better the world around us. Because the community and the self are inseparable, it can be fun to enrich your yoga practice with multi-person poses.
Before approaching a multi-person pose, consider your comfort and ability level. You don’t have to be an acrobat to safely participate in a multi-person pose. However, you definitely should not attempt a pose that will put you or others at risk of injury. Here are a few reminders before you get started:
Consider your strength and flexibility. Are you feeling well enough to engage in a posture that will require you to endure until you and your partner can safely come out of the pose? Don’t judge yourself. Honor your body, and assess whether your body is up for the challenge at this particular time.
Communicate. Before engaging in the multi-person pose, discuss exactly who is participating and in which role. Rely on the instructor to clarify any questions, such as how to position your body and which muscles you engage to in order to support the pose. Check with your partner to see if she is feeling comfortable with her part. Also, do not be afraid to communicate with your partner during the pose; if you are feeling a weakening of muscle strength or discomfort, be honest so you can adjust or come out of the pose early.
Respect. Remember that yoga should never be used in competition with others or self. While multi-person poses can be incredibly impressive, the real beauty comes from the trust that you build with yourself and your partner.
Now, here are a few poses to try:
- Beginner: A wonderful introduction to the multi-person poses is the supported tree pose. If working with a partner, stand side by side and rise into a tree pose with arms outstretched at angles above you. Turning your hand nearest your partner, press your hands together for stability. In a group, engage in a tree pose by pressing hands with yogis on either side of you to create one large circle.
- Intermediate: For a more active multi-person pose, person A lies on her back with the head in front of person B’s feet. Person A holds a loose grip onto person B’s ankles. Person A slowly lifts the feet into the air. Person B gently pushes them back to the ground.
- Advanced: Try a stacked plank. Find a partner with similar height. Person A engages in a plank. Person B carefully climbs onto a plank position on top of person A by placing the hands on the ankles of person A and resting the toes on the upper back of person A.
Enjoy your multi-person poses and make sure to wear comfortable clothes!