( In my city, Toronto (Canada), school teachers guide kids on themes of Character Development. I went to the Yoga In My School specialist, Donna Freeman, for some yogic insight about them. Thank you to Donna for this monthly series.)
Cooperation is Necessary in Partner Yoga
Cooperation: The Essence of Yoga
by Donna Freeman
The essence of yoga is cooperation. Yoga, coming from the Sanskrit root yuj, means union, or joining, a coming together of the body, mind and breath to create greater harmony.
In a yoga class you may hear the instructor encourage participants to “not sacrifice the breath for the pose.” This means, to use all aspects of yourself in collaboration with one another in order to achieve your personal best, never allowing one part to suffer because you are too focused in another area.
We all have a tendency to do exactly that in our daily lives. It is all too easy to become un-balanced as we strive to meet goals, deadlines, and personal expectations, or the opposite, become complacent and unmotivated, even depressed, if there is a lack of symmetry and equilibrium in our bodies and lives.
A regular yoga practice will help to create greater communication between the body, mind and spirit, allowing each individual to access their intuition, their inner voice, their individuality. They become more genuine with themselves, and can then take that off the mat and into the world.
By discovering and respecting who you are, you also begin to appreciate and value others. Hopefully you will realize that the way you do things is not the only way in which they can be accomplished. There are many roads to perfection and each of us is engaged in our own personal journey. We can aid one another along the way. Helping, assisting, strengthening, lifting, providing the needed support to bring out the best in all.
While this is true in an individual yoga practice it is accentuated whenever partner and group poses are used.
Something incredible happens whenever two (or more) people work together doing yoga. From the basics of synchronized breathing to extreme acro-yoga postures, trust, connection and interdependence are prevalent.
When performing partner and group poses the participants must communicate with one another. They need to work together, to cooperate, to connect and feel supported while doing the same for others. Working at this level reinforces the need for one another as the poses cannot be complete without a partner.
Partner yoga increases feeling of acceptance as you relax into your partner’s support. You become more in touch with one another, physically, emotionally, and mentally. And there is always an element of playful fun and exploration as you discover new ways to work together.
The relationships and skills developed while doing partner and group poses can then be used in other tasks which require team work and interdependence.
Cooperation is an essential skill. It will lead to greater happiness, deeper, more meaningful relationships, and contentment. As we come to know ourselves and others through practicing yoga, we increase our ability to cooperate and are well on our way to achieving these aims.