Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 | Page 52


Partner Poses

For the Wholeness of Family

By Alli Louthain
ALLI LOUTHAIN Alli Louthain grew up skiing , hiking and biking in Salt Lake City , Utah . She has always enjoyed an active , healthy lifestyle as she ’ s moved all over the country , including to Hawaii , where she met her husband . As a lifelong athlete and mother of three young kids , Alli loves the way yoga has kept her flexible and grounded for almost a decade .
Alli has her RYT through Yoga Alliance and is 200hr certified . She teaches a variety of classes from Prenatal and Chair yoga to Intermediate levels , and specializes in teaching classes for teenage girls and partner yoga for " Tall Ones and Small Ones " of all ages infused with her own motivational speaking style . One of her favorite classes to teach is " Family Yoga " at the YMCA in Avon where her husband and two older kids join her every week ! She has also been honored to head up the Family Yoga Section for the Indianapolis " Monumental Yoga " event three years in a row .
Uniting family members by doing yoga together is such a beautiful way to bind hearts , minds and souls as one . Partner yoga inherently increases communication and intimacy while building trust . A family practice engenders healthy living and gives parents a way to interact with their kids in a unique positive fashion connecting at every level . Also , family yoga is just stinkin ’ fun !
Each pose needs two people , who are forced to work together , to successfully engage in the posture . Participants read each other ’ s body language and talk through different stances to figure out how to connect correctly , to decipher how far one needs to push or pull their partner and to ensure they are equally supporting one another . There is beautiful give and take with each new pose and vulnerability both sides experience at different times . Surrendering engenders trust . Both sides practice honoring each other as they concentrate on the present moment , listening to both their own bodies and their partner ’ s . A parent may need to readjust their standing pose to accommodate a smaller body , or a child may take the parent a little deeper into a pose by adding their body weight . Constant positive communication , both spoken and nonverbal , creates an atmosphere of affection .
Yoga increases flexibility and endurance , improves concentration and creates a sense of calm and confidence in participants . Family yoga allows parents to model all these healthy behaviors alongside their children , allowing actions to speak louder than words . It also gives kids tools to handle stress and a safe space to learn that failures are just beginnings . For parents , make this time for a healthy activity you might not participate in normally .
Amid all these other benefits , participants will find out that the best part of partner yoga is the fun ! Repeatedly , I ’ ve seen adults allow their walls to come down , to be serendipitously silly , to laugh at themselves and ultimately , to let go and enjoy the present moment . We let our guard down more easily when familiar people surround us ; this makes partner yoga the perfect place to be vulnerable . Milton Berle once exclaimed , “ Laughter is an instant vacation !” Interacting with children inherently brings lightheartedness to partner yoga as a sense of play and imagination permeates the practice . Locust pose suddenly transforms into a torpedo tearing through the ocean , and plank is waaay more fun on someone else ’ s back ! Parent and child alike finish the practice with a smile on their face and lightness in their step .
Hands down , my favorite part teaching Family Yoga is watching all the partners ’ transition out of savasana . I ask them to roll onto their side facing the person they came with and give them the opportunity to “ acknowledge their awesomeness ” via with touch or words . A three-year-old snuggles up into her mom ’ s embrace , a dad puts his hand on the shoulder of his ten-year-old son , an eight-year-old daughter squeezes her mom ’ s hand , and a teenager smirks and then smiles as her mom mouths two words , “ love you ”.
Below are seven different partner poses you can try out with your own kids . With every pose first consider the height , weight and strength of your partner . The taller , heavier and stronger partner should always be the base of the pose . Poses that involve balance should be taken slowly and any poses where you are lifting your child up into the air should have a third person standing by to assist and support . Remember to laugh at mistakes and keep the practice lighthearted . Always , always honor your child ’ s feelings . Don ’ t ever force them to try something that makes them nervous or physically uncomfortable .