Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You Got Me? 5 Life Skills I Learned from Partner Yoga

Partnerships, we all need them. But can we handle them? 
 Navasana (Boat Pose)
"You got me? Don't hurt me. Don't let me down." Do these phrases sound familiar? Are you talking about yoga or your relationships? Do you find yourself seeking reassurance that your friends will support you? Then you might need a dose of Partner Yoga.

 Everywhere along the continuum of life, we are forced to compromise and build solid partnerships.Yoga is no different. At some point, we must learn to connect with our fellow yogi and share space. Whenever I feel disconnected, I step into a Partner Yoga class. Here are 5 key life skills I learned from Partner Yoga.

The first time someone asked me to balance my body on their feet, I was 5 years old. That 'someone' was my dad!  I had no fear. He supported me in every other aspect of my life, so this little acrobatic feat would be no different.
Trust and Freedom

My childlike trust for the world reinforced that my dad would never drop me or hurt me. Yet as I got older, something changed. I didn't trust people like I trusted my dad. People began to let me down. Disappointment became the rule and trust the exception. Partner Yoga forces you to revisit your trust issues in a safe environement. 

I usually practice yoga alone, at home, or in a class setting. I tell myself, "Yoga is about me on my mat". That  line of thinking only works for awhile. Then I get lonely and long for the supportive give and take in relationships. 
Strength at the base and stability up top.
In Partner Yoga, you must give and receive equally or neither of you will ever achieve your goal.

"We fall down, but we get up!" Gospel singer Donnie Mclurkin's famous song simply states that things happen and we can bounce back. Partner Yoga is no different. Sometimes your yoga partner drops you. Sometimes you drop them.
Can you shake off other people's mistakes?
Give them feedback, forgive them and move on. Just as in any friendship or relationship, we must learn to look beyond people's mistakes.

The world is spinning around you. To top it off, you are held responsible for someone else's body. Somehow you must learn to keep yourself under control. Partner Yoga often shows you a mirror of your imbalances. Once you can stabilize on the inside, everything on the outside seems to fall into place.
Community Activists Kelly Pack, Anacostia Yogi, and Lindsay Martin

Finally, at some point, we must accept that we are all unique beings with unique bodies. Sure, we can work together. But, we can also function independently and still receive the benefits of partnership. Partnerships teach us to accept others and release any attachment to changing the other person. Partner Yoga helps you to identify your internal compass for self-acceptance and gives your partner freedom to be themselves.
Similar, yet different.
To learn more about Partner Yoga, read Cain Carroll and Lori Kimata's famous book Partner Yoga

Photos by Yvette Mitchell
Photos from 2012 Edgewood Partner Yoga Workshop with Anacostia Yogi


Melissa said...

So much to say about this partner yoga. I definitely deal with trust issues when trying this kind of practice. Also, so much challenge if people aren't comfortable with touch or intimate (not sexual) connection with others. Really good for all of us to experience.

Sariane Leigh said...

Yes I stared to notice that the popular name is now "Acro Yoga". But to me, that just waters down the connection that we are trying to build. I agree about the touch/intimacy issue. We are so afraid that touching someone connotes sexuality. When really, it is a sincere & genuine way to remind yourself of your sensitivity!
Thanks for your comment!!