108. Cultivating Connection: Pregnant Partner Yoga
"These poses offer physical and emotional benefits for expectant partners while cultivating closeness with their significant other. A wise yoga teacher once told me “it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect” and I encourage you to welcome the unexpected and the awkward as you dive into unfamiliar territory."
Pregnancy by default puts the birthing partner at the center of the action. Not only is their physical body changing and their entire being evolving, but they bear the brunt of the physical “work” it takes to grow a human and bring that human earth side. This can often create a disconnect between partners for the simple reason that one of them is experiencing something that the other is not. That disconnect isn’t necessarily good or bad, but it may bring a feeling of distance or misunderstanding.
One amazing way to support and nurture connection with your partner during this unique time is through partner yoga. Partner yoga helps foster a deeper connection between you and your loved one and can contribute to a boost in mood for both of you. It involves physical contact, support, and vulnerability. Learning to trust your partner to support you in various poses can translate into improved trust and communication in other areas of your relationship. Partner yoga also allows couples to explore physical intimacy in a unique and healthy way. The practice involves holding, balancing, and stretching with your partner.
Discuss your intentions, comfort levels, and any physical limitations with your partner before starting. During the practice, maintain an open line of communication through verbal cues and non-verbal cues like eye contact and touch. These poses are relatively simple and can help you build trust and familiarity.
Once your doctor or health professional has cleared you for this kind of movement, I invite you to roll out your mat and try something new with your partner!
Suitable Space Checklist
- A quiet, spacious area without distractions
- A solid, flat floor should be beneath your yoga mat
- Blankets, yoga blocks, pillows, candles, incense, or anything else that can make things more comfy and inviting
- Relaxing, non-instrumental music
- Temperature adjusted to your liking, slightly warm is ideal
- Comfy, loose fitting clothing
- Honestly, no one needs anything special to do yoga. A mat, props, straps, and bolsters are just nice to have!
- Take a comfortable seat on the floor or mat.
- Sit up as straight as you can, allowing the spine to extend vertically.
- Facing each other, begin inhaling and exhaling in unison.
- Take ten deep breaths, holding at the top and bottom of the breath for 4-5 seconds.
Partner Cat/Cow Stretch
- Sit on the floor facing your partner, cross-legged.
- Let your hands rest palm down on your knees.
- As both of you inhale together, lift your chest toward the sky, arch your back slightly, and arch back as far as your comfort level allows.
- On the exhale, draw your chin to your chest and your belly button to your spine, allowing the back to round.
- Continue this synchronized movement for 7-8 slow breath cycles.
Wide Legged Twist Together
- Sit facing your partner and stretch your legs out straight and into a straddle position.
- It may feel more comfortable to bring your legs closer together in the straddle position and put your legs over your partners, bringing you closer together.)
- Clasp opposite hands, and make eye contact with your partner. Ensure that you’re sitting straight up.
- While holding hands, one partner twists left, the other twists right. Then move back to center, facing each other, still holding hands.
- Flow back and forth in a gentle, washing machine-like motion, or hold the twist on each side for 3-5 breath cycles on each side.
Back to Back Chair Pose
- This one’s more of a challenge!
- Stand up with your partner and have your backs touching.
- Start to slowly walk your feet forward and bend the knees slowly as you press your backs against each other for support.
- Walk your feet out far enough so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are behind or just over your ankles. Do not allow the knee to go past your ankles (when viewing from the top.)
- Press against your partner’s back and also press down into the ground with your feet.
- Raise your arms above your head in true Chair Pose or keep the elbows bent with hands in a prayer position.
- Hold this for 3-5 slow, deep breaths, and then slowly stand up. Repeat 1-2 times.
Double Tree Pose
- Stand next to your partner facing the same way with 1-2 feet between you.
- Raise your inside arms straight up and touch palms or grab hands for more stability.
- Bend at the knee on your outside leg and bring the bottom of your foot to touch your calf or inner thigh (above or below the knee.) Do not put your foot directly on the knee.
- With your outside arms, bring the hands in front of you and place your palm on your partner’s palm, creating a prayer position.
- To help balance, each partner should find a spot on the floor a few feet in front of them and focus on that. (This spot is also known as a drishti in Sanksrit.)
- Cycle through 3-5 breath cycles, then swap places with your partner and repeat the pose to even it out.
Legs Up with Support
- Lie on your back with your legs extended upward.
- Rest your calves or feet in your partner’s hands as they stand up facing the back of your quads.
- Your partner can place their hands gently on your calves, ankles, or feet to provide support (and maybe give you a little foot rub!)
- Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes, focusing on deep, calming breaths.
- Sit cross-legged facing each other, maintaining eye contact.
- Start a timer for anywhere from 2-10 minutes so you don’t have to wonder about how much time has passed.
- Place your left hand on your partner’s left side where the heart is, and have your partner do the same to you.
- Place your right hand over your partner’s left hand, and have them do the same.
- Relax, close your eyes, take full, deep breaths, and sync your breathing with each other, inviting your sole focus to be your partner’s breath and heart beat.
I hope these 6 exercises inspire you to grow your connection with your partner. These poses offer physical and emotional benefits for expectant partners while cultivating closeness with their significant other. A wise yoga teacher once told me “it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect” and I encourage you to welcome the unexpected and the awkward as you dive into unfamiliar territory. Embrace this opportunity to bond, focus on each other, and prepare for the life changing journey of parenthood together. Namaste.
Olivia is a former competitive gymnast, certified yoga teacher, and content specialist living in Los Angeles. She found yoga in her late twenties and credits the practice as the single most impactful influence in her lifelong journey navigating major depressive disorder. She enjoys introducing yoga to others, fostering animals, and going thrifting. Also, naps.