Rina Jakubowicz and Eric Paskel own 10 yoga studios between them in three separate states, and their families are dispersed all over the world. Always on the go, the conscious connection they actively create in partner yoga poses likes these is essential to their relationship.
This post was co-written by Eric Paskel.
Our lives outside of our relationships are so busy and chaotic, it can prove quite challenging to stay connected to our partners when we are simultaneously connected to myriad other things.
Eric and I are on a mission to maintain those connections, while still deepening ours. He says that it's about positioning ourselves and our relationship in a way where the "we" and the "I" both can stand alone and together. We've realized that the space between us doesn’t have to be the enemy, if we know how to optimize our time apart. Our intimacy comes from our willingness to pause and find depth in moments of chaos.
These "selfless partner" yoga poses are a simple and effective way to maintain our own identity, and create a "we" within it. Practicing yoga together has given us a solid foundation of communication, patience, playfulness, trust and openness.
You and your partner can use these poses as a symbol to honor your differences — an essential component to your growth as an individual. Be grateful for the unique qualities your partner brings to the relationship, because each one of you comes with your own strengths, stories and ways of loving. Be willing to listen and be heard. Find your balance within you and with your partner … selflessly.
"Selfless Partner" Yoga Tips:
- Honor the physical differences of your partner, because every body speaks a different language.
- Communicate clearly when something feels pleasurable, or if there is any discomfort.
- Being a "selfless partner" comes from your intention to give and serve your partner according to their needs.
Warm up your bodies with a few rounds of Sun Salutations first.
L-Shape Handstand + Downward Dog Duet
(Adho Mukha Vrksasana + Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The base partner enters Downward Dog and the flier places their hands in front of the base's hands, pointing the same direction. The flier presses her weight into her hands and lifts up the hips, planting the right foot gently on the base's hip bone.
She continues to press her foot into his hip in order to lift the left foot up, bringing her left foot to find his left hip. From here, the flier lifts her hips higher until an L-shape of the body is achieved.
Take five deep breaths together and finish the pose by giving each other a kiss, a reminder that even when the world turns upside down, we are still in it together.
Supported Backbend: "The Backpack"
(Urdhva Dhanurasana + Utkatasana Variation)
Stand back-to-back with your partner. The base stands with his feet wider than his hips and bends his knees until the flier's hips are right above his.
Base grabs flier’s arms and puts them over his shoulders, as if her arms were backpack straps. Base ensures that he’s not pulling too hard and asks the flier if she’s OK.
Then he holds onto her arms and she relaxes her body entirely. Trust is essential here. Base moves his hips back while not bending the knees anymore than he already has, and leans his body forward.
The flier's feet will lift off the floor automatically as the base finds the perfect balancing spot for both of them. The base must engage his core to support himself and he will round his back some to give the flier a deeper arch in her back.
As an added bonus, the flier can bend her knees and grab her feet. The base remembers to find peace during the pose by extending his two fingers marking his inner and outer peaceful moment!
Take 5-10 deep breaths together feeling each other’s backs breathing in unison. To come out of the pose, the base will start to straighten his legs and move his hips forward again, gently placing the flier on the ground.
She finds the floor with her feet and pushes down to stand up. Switch positions, if available.
Tripod Headstand With Synchronized Legs
(Salamba Sirsasana II)
Both partners must be able to do a tripod headstand on their own, in order to achieve this pose. If you are working on your headstand you can choose to do this variation in a Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) instead.
Stand about a foot away from your partner. Place hands on the floor and the crown of the head to the floor in front of the hands. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Ground hands to the floor and lift the hips up slowly. Try to lift your legs up at the same time and make sure that you're stable so that you don’t fall backwards onto each other.
Once you have stability then bend the inside leg and find each other’s sole of the foot. Press gently into each other without losing your balance. Then bend the other leg, so that you are creating a 90-degree angle with your legs as much as possible.
As you will notice here, Rina’s legs are much shorter compared to Eric’s, so an exact 90-degree angle isn't entirely possible. But just like in relationships, there is a compromise.
Hold here for 5 breaths and then communicate when it is time to switch legs. Take 5 more breaths. Slowly lower down and hold Child’s Pose for 5 breaths.
Supported Child's Pose + Heart Opener
(Balasana + Urdhva Dhanurasana Variation)
Have the base partner stay in Child's Pose as the flier gets up to create a partner stretch together. She places her tailbone onto his tailbone in alignment with his body. She places her feet hips-width apart and her hands on his hips as she lowers her back slowly onto his back.
When she’s relaxed onto his back and he confirms the pressure is fine, she straightens her legs out in front of her and reaches her arms over her head to get a full stretch in the front of the body.
The base stays relaxed. He can choose to grab the flier’s wrists and give her an extra chest stretch if she wants it.
Take 5 breaths together feeling your backs rise and fall together. Then switch positions.
Stand side-by-side with your partner and have one partner's outer edge of his inner foot touch the other partner's outer edge of her inner foot. Both partners step their outer foot out wide, toes facing out as they both bend deeply through their front knee, at about 90 degrees. The front thighs should be as parallel to the floor as each partner can handle.
One partner's inner right hand grabs for the other partner's inner left hand as they both pull downward.
Both partner's outer arms lift up as their backs arch slightly, reaching for each other's hands up in the air. Both partners should feel a deep stretch through the outer side of their bodies.
Take 5 deep breaths and then switch legs.
Assisted Tree Pose
Stand side-by-side and wrap your arms around each other’s waist. Each partner shifts their weight into the sole of the inner foot and lifts the outside leg so that it’s
placed on the inner shin or thigh (above or below the kneecap). Find your balance together.
Extend the outside arms and make your mudra (hand gesture) of choice. Take 10 deep breaths together and then switch sides.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend With Hand Clasp
Stand facing away from one another with about one foot or so between you.
Extend your arms parallel to the floor and separate your legs until your ankles are under your wrists. Turn your toes inward so that the outsides of your feet are parallel to each other.
Start to bend forward and reach between your legs until you find your partner’s hands or forearms. Clasp and hold on tight while you lean slightly forward and create a hamstring stretch.
If one partners is unable to reach then have them bend their knees so they don't not strain their back. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths together.
Lateral Partner Stretch
Sit on the floor facing one another. Both partners extend the right leg out diagonally to the right, with the left leg bent inward to press the left foot against the inside of the right leg. Make sure that your right foot is touching your partner’s left knee and vice versa.
Grab each other’s right forearms and extend the left arm up and over your left ear toward the right foot. Make sure both partners are equally pulling on the right arm in order to create the traction needed to really feel the stretch.
Communicate with one another to know if you need a deeper stretch or if it’s too intense for you. Ask your partner how they are feeling and adjust accordingly. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths and change sides.
Extended Half Lift: "The Partner Frisk"
(Ardha Uttanasana Variation)
Stand about two feet away from your partner. Separate your feet about a foot wider than your hips. Lift your arms up and press your palms into one another. Extend your arms out straight and move your hips back to give yourself a hip and hamstring stretch.
Drop your chest slightly so as to give yourself a shoulder and chest stretch as well. Lift your head and gaze into each other’s eyes to remind yourself of who you’re connecting with in this moment. Take 5 to 10 breaths together.
Gallery Credit: Nicholas Oscoff/mindbodygreen