If you’re looking for new ways to mix up your yoga practice, duo yoga could be for you. Combining acrobatics, yoga and healing practices, duo yoga requires two people and focuses on building strength, trust and compassion.
In this guide, we cover all there is to know about this fun yet powerful practice, including the benefits to be gained, key safety advice and some great sequences you can try at home.
So, what exactly is duo yoga?
Duo yoga, or as it’s formerly known, ‘acroyoga’, is a type of yoga practice involving two people. One person acts as the ‘base’ and creates the foundation for the poses. The other person is referred to as the ‘flyer’ and is supported by the base. There are a number of acroyoga sequences ranging from simple beginner poses, to highly advanced postures that should only be attempted by experienced individuals.
Origins of duo yoga
The concept of a person aiding someone in certain yoga postures was first demonstrated by indian yoga teacher, Krishnamacharya (often referred to as ‘the father of modern yoga’), in 1938.
However, it wasn’t recognised as a style of yoga until the 1980’s when Benjamin Marantz created AcroSage, which was aimed at relieving back pain and incorporated many of the postures and transitions similar to those practiced today.
In 1999, the term ‘acroyoga’ was introduced by two candian dancers, Euguen Poku and Jessie Golderg, which described a blend of dance, acrobatics and yoga. It was later used by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein in 2003 to create AcroYoga International, which helped pave the way for millions of duo and acroyoga practitioners worldwide.
Why practice duo yoga?
Like any form of yoga, duo yoga helps strengthen the connection between your mind and body. It also helps improve your balance, build muscle strength and promote mindfulness.
But practicing with a partner also offers some unique benefits of its own. In today’s world, we are often so absorbed by our busy lives or wrapped up in our own thoughts, that we have become increasingly disconnected from other human beings. However, duo yoga aims to promote human connection and encourages individuals to communicate and support each other both physically and mentally. It can also help build trust, helping to strengthen friendships and relationships.
What do I need to practice duo yoga?
All you need to practice duo yoga is someone who’s willing to practice with you. This could be a friend or partner, or if you attend a duo yoga class it may even be a stranger. It’s also a good idea to have a mat, particularly if you’re practicing on a slippy or hard surface. If you don’t own a mat, we have a choice of eco-friendly cork yoga mats offering maximum grip and stability to help support you and your partner as you move through each sequence.
How difficult is duo yoga?
Whilst some of the more advanced postures can be challenging, there are plenty of beginner sequences that can be attempted without any prior yoga experience. This means duo yoga is suitable for just about anyone.
However, like any physical activity, it’s not without its risks, which is why we’ve outlined some key safety tips to help you and your partner avoid injury.
• Always warm up
You should always warm up before beginning any form of exercise, as this helps prepare your body for what’s about to come. We recommend starting with a few sunsaluations and some gentle stretches to get your blood circulating and activate your muscles.
In duo yoga good communication is vital, so be sure to regularly check in with your partner during each transition and pose. If you feel unsteady, tell them. Don’t try to adjust your balance without communicating first, as this could throw your partner off balance too.
• Be honest about how you’re feeling
It’s important to check in with yourself and assess how you’re feeling. Are you getting tired? Are you worried about trying a certain posture? If you’re not feeling 100%, make sure you tell your partner and only do what you feel comfortable with.
• Be realistic
Whilst it may be tempting to try something because it looks fun, it’s really important to be realistic about your ability and not try anything that could be dangerous. Progression in duo yoga can be slow at times, but it’s much better to be patient and practice safely, than take risks and wind up with an injury.
• Have a spotter
Ideally, you should always have a spotter on hand to offer support and be ready to assist if necessary. If you’re new to duo yoga or attempting more advanced postures for the first time, this is especially important.
Sequences to try at home
• Double plank
This is an ideal pose for beginners and great for improving core strength. To begin, the base starts in a regular plank position. Facing towards the base’s feet, the flyer places their hands on their partners ankles and positions their feet on top of their partners shoulders.
• Front bird pose
The base lies with their back flat on the mat and the flyer stands facing them. The base then positions their feet on the flyer’s hips. The flyer interlocks hands with the base, then leans forward and slowly transitions their weight into the base's feet. The base then slowly bends their knees to lift the flyer into the air.
• Throne pose
The base begins lying flat on their back and the flyer standing with one foot either side of their head. Holding the flyers ankles for support, the base then brings their feet towards the flyer and the flyer slowly sits on the base’s feet. The base then lifts the flyers feet (one at a time), and positions the sole of each foot on either palm. The base then slowly lifts their feet into the air to raise the flyer up into full throne pose.
• Square pose
For this pose, the base lies completely flat on their back with legs stretched out in front of them. Facing the bases feet, the flyer then places their hands on the bases ankles. One at a time, the base takes hold of the flyers ankles and then with arms raised above their head, the base slowly sits up. While this is happening, the flyer simultaneously folds at the hips to create a square formation.
We hope you found this guide helpful, and you now feel ready to give duo yoga a try! Also, don’t forget to check out our range of eco-friendly yoga products, including our cork yoga mats, blocks, and more.