Toronto Star February 2013

Life / Health & Wellness / Fitness

Yoga for two unique Valentine’s Day date

Partner yoga builds trust and deepens the emotional bond in a couple.
Using each other’s bodies for stability, both people can stretch more than they would be able to alone.

By: Lisa Evans Special to the Star, Published on Monday February 11, 2013

In a yoga pose, you’re usually focused on yourself. You zero in on your breath, and how your muscles feel — and try to ignore how good classmates are at the poses.
Yet, the practice can be done in pairs, making it the perfect Valentine’s Day activity for couples who share the healthy passion. It allows you to do poses that are impossible to achieve solo, and it deepens your bond as well. That’s why annual partner yoga workshops are offered in February at many of yoga studios around the city.
Partner yoga builds trust and deepens the emotional bond in a couple, says Temmi Ungerman Sears, an Iyengar yoga instructor who has been teaching couples from her Bathurst St. and Eglinton Ave. studio, Yoga Buds, since 1996.
“Ninety-three per cent of our emotional content is conveyed non-verbally,” she says. “When you’re touching each other in adjusting or supporting in a pose, or creating a pose together, it provides an opportunity for this non-verbal communication to happen.”
Susan Poizner took in Sears’ Valentine’s Day couples class with her partner last year and hopes to go this year as well. “Yoga is something I’ve enjoyed for many years, and my partner has been dabbling in it a little bit, so it’s nice to be able to do it together,” she says.
Some poses are done side by side, some involve one person doing the move with the other’s assistance, and some involve both people in the movement. “Any pose can be created to be shared,” says Sears.
One is a forward and backward bend, in which partners link arms while sitting back-to-back. One partner bends forward toward the knees, while the other leans back. Using each other’s bodies for stability, both can stretch more than they would be able to alone.
Another is the double downward dog, in which each partner puts their “paws” on the other’s, helping them to get more grounding through the hands and more lift through the arms and spine.

Sears ends every partner class with shavasana, in which couples lie on their backs, some holding hands, then roll to the side and slowly open their eyes to look at their partner. Sears invites partners to share a promise, a whisper or a message; something that comes from the heart. “It’s always something really meaningful because you’re so open and chill from the practice,” she says.
“It’s quite intimate,” says Poizner. “In our regular lives, you come home and make dinner and are always busy, but when you’re doing these poses together, there’s the opportunity to look into each other’s eyes.”