Partner Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Share a Smile

35 min - Practice
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Share a smile and breathe with your partner. Scott, with the help of Christina, guides a basic floor sequence designed to stretch and open the shoulders, hips, and hamstrings. This forward fold and twisting sequence will help to calm the nervous system and deepen your connection with your breath and partner.
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Welcome back. Welcome back to partner yoga. My name is Scott and this is Christina. The session today I love to refer to as sharing a smile through the entire segment with your partner through the stretches that we do. You'll be facing one another. So this is a wonderful opportunity to communicate. Communicate whether you want to go deeper into a pose or pull back a little bit, to share the experience that you're having verbally, or just to be in contact to see the expression of your partner, to feel their movement, to even not use words, but grow greater sensitivity of working with a partner through these poses. And of course sharing a smile, sharing a laughter whenever it comes up. Really through all these classes I think that if you share a smile, share a laughter, that's really what it's all about. Then you're doing it right. So we'll begin by facing one another. We've done this stretch in a few of the other classes. It's a wonderful way to warm up and you can do this anytime, anytime during the day with a friend in a class or even at work or at play. So we bring our arms together holding gently the wrists, but gentle but still a firm contact so that you're not going to slide. You can feel the trust of your partner's weight as you move away from each other. So step back, hinging at her hips, bowing forward so the torso becomes pretty much parallel to the floor. And then once you create that shape then we can start to pull the way from each other. I'm pushing down and forward with my feet and that helps to lengthen. And we're sensitive to each other. I'm not trying to pull her over, she's not trying to pull me over, but after time even without speaking we can pull each other a little bit more and get even a deeper stretch in our shoulders, our spine, a release in the low back. And of course too if your hamstrings are talking to you right now you can keep the knees bent. We'll take a few more breaths here. And then looking up, don't let go, would not be good to let go right here. You're going to stand up and keep about the same distance. Hold right wrist to right wrist. Again a nice firm contact that's not going to slide. We'll hinge at the hips. Once we create this shape we'll pull away from each other. Especially now we're at the right arm to right arm so the right outer hip will draw away. The leg will straighten. Lift the right armpit and twist under and look under the arm. With the left knee you can bend the knee and use the bent knee as a little kickstand for your left elbow. Go with our breath. Again as you stay in the shape maybe pull a little bit more on each other sensitive to the other person's pressure. Twisting open maybe a little bit more. Excellent. And again don't let go. Look at each other to confirm that you're going to come up at the same time and change hands. Then same thing on this side. Hinge at the hips. This time the outer left hip pulls away. Lift the left armpit. Look under the arm. Bend the right knee. Feel this wonderful stretch all the way from the outer left hip through all the left side ribs. Breathing into the spaces between the ribs. The intercostal muscles. Feel too the stretch on that left shoulder. A couple more breaths here.

And then we'll look up and come on up and release hands. Now about the same distance. We're gonna do something where we come into a squat from here but feel free too that the distance might need to be just a slight bit different when we come into this next pose. So we'll hold hands. Already thinking about lifting our heart and staying tall through the spine. We'll separate our feet. Turn the feet out slightly and we'll come into a squat from here. On the way down keep a little pull each other on the part on your partner and that will help you to stay in balance. It'll probably help for you too to be able to keep your heels on the floor. Even if the if the back of your calves are tight usually when you do a squat you might find that you can in this version with the pressure and the tension of holding your partner's arms keep your heels on the floor. So we'll take an inhale here and then with an exhale we'll come down. So here the knees open up to allow space for the torso. Keep tall through the spine and still a little tension pulling each other will help you to release into your hips. And this is a fine opportunity again to share a smile. In fact if your partner isn't smiling make a funny face and get them to smile. Take a couple more breaths here. Just let gravity help you to settle into your hips. And then in all the previous shoulder stretches I told you not to let go. This time we're gonna let go. So gently release and we end up all the way down to the floor. Come into a cross-legged position. Scoot up so that your knees touch. And you can pick whatever cross-legged position feels comfortable to you. Whether it's all the way across to the shins or opened up a little bit wider. Whichever pose you chose though. Take your legs use your hands to turn your thighs in. Widen out through the sitting bones. To help you sit up tall low back draws in and up. Here we'll clasp forearms. I'm gonna move a little bit with our breath. So with the arms straight pulling away from each other a little bit. Take an inhale lift your heart. The head the top of the throat go back. And then with the exhale round your back and let your head hang in. Still pulling a little bit on your partner. Take an extra breath here and let your back full expand. Fill the space behind your heart. And then with the inhale lift the heart. And we'll keep doing this a few more times. Exhale. So a cat cow breath is often what we do on our own at the beginning of a yoga class. Here moving with a partner you feel in connection to the partner's breath. In connection and sensitivity to the movement of your partner. One more inhale and again share a smile. From here we'll do a simple seated twist. I'll take my right hand to the outside of her left hip. She'll do the same. Our other arm is gonna cross our low back and find the hand, fingers, wrist of your partner. Inhale again through a tall spine rooting down through the sitting bones. And exhale twist open and away. Keep the shoulders lifted and broad. And feel the arm that goes across your low back helping you to draw the low back in and up to sit up tall. A couple more breaths here. And then with the inhale come back to facing. Share a smile and we'll change sides. Again inhale tall through the spine. Exhale allow a deeper twist. Working with your breath is important through all these poses especially working with a partner. And even if you're just holding hands you might be able to feel and sense your partner's breath and move with that person. Inhaling together and exhaling. One more breath here and with the inhale coming back to face. Okay now we're gonna do a pose where one person is going to assist the other person to come into a deeper stretch. We'll sit back a little bit further and open the legs wide into a straddle forward fold called Upavistha Konasana. For this first round I'm gonna assist Christina to fold forward. So I'm going to place my feet such that the soles of my foot the bottom of my heel is going to come more to the inner ankle of Christina. What this allows for her to do is she can sweep her legs toward the middle and use that energy to strengthen her legs to help to draw her low back in and sit up tall. What you can also do here is what we did seated using your hands to internally rotate the legs especially if your hamstrings are tight will help you again to lift up through the low back. Keeping the legs straight I'll hold the wrists and then I just gently draw her forward as I lean back. I keep my back straight my shoulders plugged in and I'm sensitive to her body. I'm not trying to force her into a shape or pull her beyond her her desire here. I kind of feel her breath and feel whether she can go further and she can communicate too. She can say whether she wants to come a little bit further or back off. We'll stay here a couple more breaths. Good and the inhale will bring us back up to seated. Now she'll do the assist for me. So I'll adjust my feet. She brings her feet to the inner ankles. I can again turn my legs in. Now depending on your flexibility, hamstrings, hip flexors here, you might go a little bit further. So you might think about reaching even beyond the elbows more toward the shoulders or if you can come all the way down here I'm able to hold the sides of Christina's legs and give a little bit of leverage here and she can move her hands again instead to the back of my shoulders and help me to lengthen forward from there. And after a few cycles of breath you might find yourself going deeper into the forward fold especially with the support of your partner. And then we'll sit back up tall with the inhale. I can always take a moment to at any point in the practice to thank your partner if that felt good. This next one is going to go back to doing a pose that's symmetric. So for this we'll line up the inner edges of our feet. We'll take a twisted a Parsva Upavista Konasana. We'll face our chest toward our left leg and then bow our right shoulder to the inside of the right leg. As we go the bottom arm, the right arm, is going to come together. You bow the shoulder to the inside of the leg. You'll go the other direction. And we bow in. The top arm, depending on your flexibility, you might be able to reach for the connection of your feet with your partner. If that feels way too much you can bring the hand to the back of your head and just lift the elbow toward the sky. As you stay here, after a few cycles of breath working with your partner, maybe you take a slightly deeper clasp to get the shoulder in more toward the inner leg and roll the top shoulder more open to the sky. Again, go with your breath and your partner's breath. Never forcing, never pushing, just letting the breath and the work with your partner lead the way. A couple more breaths here. And then inhale, rise up. And we'll chain sides. So turning to face the right leg, linking the left arms. With the exhale, dip the left shoulder to the inside of your left leg. Top arm either comes to the back of the head or all the way across to the foot. And after a few breaths, again, maybe take a deeper clasp or not. It should be mostly about how it feels. Maybe the top shoulder rolls open a little bit more. Try to keep the legs strong. The more that you can press the back of the legs into the floor, that will help to find a release through the spine and the side stretch that you get.

And then inhale, rise. Press down through your legs as you come up and share a smile. The next thing we're going to do is assist one another in doing a forward-fold Baddha Konasana, sometimes called Cobbler's Pose. So Christina will bring the soles of her feet together. Now how close the feet are to your hips is a little bit up to you on how open your hips are in this pose. And you can experiment with a little bit closer or further away when doing it with a partner because having the partner's assistance might cause you to be able to go into the pose in a slightly deeper way and you can play with that foot position. It's also a good opportunity again to roll the inner thighs in, widen out through the sitting bones. Now I'm going to place the soles of my feet about midway through the front of the shin, so not right at the knee, not right at the ankle. And I'm not pushing into her, I'm more placing a barrier, something that she can use as leverage to help her fold forward. I'll hold wrists or forearms, we'll inhale together, lengthening our spine, and exhale. I just lean back to help her come forward. My leaning back is creating the leverage for her, the assistance. So I'm not muscling with my arms, I don't have to bend my elbows at all, I just keep my shoulders plugged in, lift my heart as I lean back and it's really effortless for me. And again I'm not forcing her to come forward, I feel her breath and maybe on an exhale she comes a little bit further and I just feel that and go with that. And with the inhale we'll rise back up and we'll change sides, she'll do that assistance for me. So I bring the soles of my feet together, hips closer to my heels. How high the knees are up from the floor is also going to be a function of how open your hips are at this moment. You can also place a little support, a pillow or a yoga block under the sides of your knees if your knees are up high and it feels uncomfortable to have them up in the air. But having the pressure of the feet too is going to help you in doing this pose. So this pose might actually feel really good. If it's a pose that's been a challenge for you in the past, you might find working with your partner in this way is going to create a whole new experience of this pose. So again we'll clasp elbows or wrists, I lift up from my low back, inhale and exhale come forward. And again with every cycle of breath, maybe you come into the pose a little bit deeper with the assistance of your partner. Last couple breaths here. And inhale and we'll rise back up. The next pose we're gonna do, another forward fold, will come foot to foot with our legs straight. So here is Paschimottanasana, another opportunity to turn the legs in, widen out to the sitting bones. If your hamstrings are very tight and it's hard for you to sit up tall, you can also put a blanket, a pillow under your hips and that allows you to be able to tip from the low back and tip your pelvis a little bit more forward. You can also keep a slight bend to your knees, that's totally allowed here, but do keep the muscles and the legs toned even if the legs are, if the knees are bent, drawing back the kneecaps and lifting them up through the quadriceps. Here we reach forward and depending upon your flexibility, maybe you just hold fingers, maybe you hold wrists, and we'll move a little bit with the breath here. We're gonna go back and forth helping each other. So initially with my inhale, I'll lift up, draw Christina toward me and she's exhaling, and then we'll do the opposite. She inhales to lift up, I exhale to fold forward. We'll do that a few more times. Inhale to lift up for me, exhale to fall, draw forward a couple more times. Going slow, letting the movement last the entire length of a full inhale and a full exhale. So our breath becomes in sync with each other. And then the last time, Christina will fold forward, she'll stay there, and then I'll also fold forward. We'll slide our hands further down each other's arms. Feel the pressure of your feet into your partner's feet, and that might help you also to fold a little bit forward more. Just release the head here, and then look at each other, share a smile, and come back up. For this next one, we're gonna skew it in just a little bit closer. I'm gonna take my left knee and bend it out to the side. Christina will do the same, and we'll come forward so that our straight leg, the sole of the foot, is gonna touch the inner knee. So it's a pose, and yoga referred to as Janu Shoshasana. We'll sit up tall, and initially we're gonna fold forward. Inhale, and then lengthen forward over our straight leg, so we come right to the side of our partner. The inner arm, the left arm, can come gently to the upper back of your partner, and you're just encouraging a little bit of a twist toward the straight leg, and helping the partner lengthen from the whole spine, forward fold over in that leg. We'll take a couple more breaths here, and then begin to turn to face your partner. The outer arms will come together, hold elbows, and you just gently twist open, lengthening the left side, the top side of your body, over the leg, and again the top arm is gently helping your partner to do that. In fact, breathe into that hand that you feel on your side, and let the ribs spread into that hand, and then we'll inhale and come up, and simply change legs. The right knee bends in, the left leg becomes straight, and just line up the foot with the inner knee. If the lengths of the legs are different, it really doesn't matter so much here. We're both getting in a good stretch, and you're creating a wonderful shape of connection. During this whole sequence we stay facing each other, our hearts stay facing each other. So inhale, lift up through your heart, and exhale, fold over the front leg. The inner arm, the right arm, comes gently to the side of the back, the right side of the back. Here is your partner's breath. Every inhale, stay strongly connected to the earth. Every exhale, maybe go a little bit further, assisting your partner. And then inhale, we'll face each other, the outside arms, the left arms come together, and gently twist open, breathing into the right side of the ribs, the outer right hip grounds, and feel an opening all the way through the right ribs, up into your partner's hand.

Here your partner's breath, and then inhale, we'll come back up. Now this next one's a little bit fun. It's a little bit challenging, a little bit harder to get into. It'll take maybe a couple of times just to find the right balance for it. We'll set up where our toes come together, and we can actually flex our toes so that the base of our toes start to come together. We're going to come into boat pose with your partner, supporting each other. So with the feet still on the floor, clasp wrists, again feel a nice firm connection. Then keeping the feet pressed together, we'll start on the side closer to the window. I'm going to lift the foot, she's going to lift the foot at the same time, our feet start to come together, and we're going to attempt to lift the foot, keeping them in connection above one another. Now again, depending upon the length of legs and flexibility, hamstrings, the legs might not come all the way straight. Just lift them as high as you can, keeping a nice firm pressure into your partner's foot, and then do the same on the other side, and we come up. Once you find that, and once you find some stability, pull a little bit on your partner's arms, lift your chest, even start to take the throat back and look up more past the feet. The feet stay strongly in pressure with each other, and that helps you find a deep opening for the low back. Let's strengthen the core, each cycle of breath coming up a little bit higher. This was key too to keep a nice firm contact for the hands, and then to come down, we'll look at each other first, check in, take one foot down at first, and the other one down. So we made that look easy, you might not be able to do that in your first try. You might, this is opportunity too, where you just might tip over to one side, fall onto the floor, end up in a laughing pool of grace, and if you are laughing, then you're doing it right, and you just come right back in and give it a try again. This next one is similar, even just a little bit harder, just to find the right balance. So this time our arms are to the inside, keep a firm connection to the arms, a lift to the low back, again we'll take one foot up, actually I'm going to start slightly different, before we bring the feet up, we're gonna change the hands, we're gonna cross wrists, so now right wrist to right wrist, left wrist to left wrist, then again set up tall, now we'll start to lift that foot. So the foot's a little bit out to the side, but still vertical, firm contact through the arms, and we do the other side, and we come up, go slowly with your partner, a fast movement isn't going to help here, and then we're gonna do a twist, we'll keep the right wrist holding the right wrist, softly start to let go the left arm, go slow, start to take the arm back, and twist open to the side, firm contact through the feet, nice firm clasp through the right hands, go with your breath, maybe twist a little bit further, it's definitely a balancing pose, using your core to help you keep stabilized, and strong connection with your partner, and then we'll inhale, look back at each other, share a smile for what we just accomplished, clasp left hands, find that firm contact first, lift up through the heart, and slowly release the right hand, and twist open the other way, this is definitely a challenging pose, stay with your breath, smile and laugh, no matter how it goes, and we'll inhale, look back at each other, clasp hands first, stay tall through the spine, lower one foot, and then the other foot comes down, you can see her smile and laughter, and however it worked out. Now, Christina's gonna turn for her back toward me, and we'll do another wonderful shoulder opener, for a line of the forward folds we did, often the shoulders want to roll forward, heart closes a little bit, so do a pose that's kind of a counter pose to that, open fully the heart, expand the shoulders, so Christina will reach your hands back, will hold wrists, you can kind of decide which rotation the arm works best, either turning the arm in or out, what feels good for the partner receiving the assistance, then I'm gonna place my feet on her upper middle back, not on the spine, but on either side of the mid-back, and the base of my toes are really lined up with the lower half of the shoulder blades, Christina has her legs crossed here, and that's totally fine, you can also have the knees bent with the feet flat, or the legs out straight, and then here with my arm straight, I give a little bit of pull with my arms, a little bit of pressure with my feet and my legs, and I'm very sensitive to how it feels for her, I can feel whether there's any resistance and I don't pull into that resistance, if anything I soften a little bit and wait for her to release into a deeper stretch, I feel her breath too, and if every exhale is an opportunity that maybe it's a slightly deeper stretch, this is a point too where the partner can give you feedback and say whether they want a little bit more or a little bit less, or even to move the feet in a slightly different position, either a little bit higher up the back or lower down the back, and I'm really just using the base of my toes, the heels don't really touch the back, I'll stay a couple more breaths, this is a wonderful stretch too, if you have a job where you're sitting at a desk looking at a computer for hours and hours, so really help to open back up the shoulders and face the world again with an open heart, so then I gently start to release the wrists, place my feet back down and we'll change and she'll give that stretch to me, I start by sitting up tall already, reach my arms back, Christina will clasp my wrists or my hands and place her feet in the upper back to either side of the spine, base of toes line up with the lower half of the shoulder blades, and it's progressive, she starts to create the stretch, she has straight arms leaning back, pressing with her legs, she can feel my breath, the attention of the arms and the pressure of the feet, and give a little bit more attention, I keep my throat open, allow my upper back to draw in, my chest to expand, my outer shoulders roll open, a couple more breaths here and then gently to release and release the hands, it's also an opportunity to when you're in poses where hands are holding wrists that you can you could say tap out even non-verbally, tap a little bit with your fingers to say that you want more or less and it gives a communication to your partner, this next thing we'll do is we'll come back to facing each other and begin to close our practice, this is a practice to where we spent the majority of the practice facing each other, so we've already shared a smile, we share the light in our heart, practice where we can really then appreciate one another in the way that we're helping each other to experience these poses deeper and finding a deeper connection to each other, so then taking your right hand and just placing it on the center chest of your partner and let the gratitude come through the touch that you created, even feeling your partner's breath, connection to their heart and share a smile and bring your hands together at your heart and give thanks to your partner. Thank you for joining this practice today.

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