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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a pairs event

on february 13th, the pairs figure skating finals were held at the 2006 winter olympics in torino, italy. all the competitors had trained hard for this event, and for the most part, they performed all their lifts and jumps and spins and footwork impressively.

the next day, february 14th, i participated in a pairs event of my own: partner yoga taught by matthew cohen at sacred movement. not only was it a special valentine's day-only event, but the price was also reflective of the date: 2 for $14. i was fortunate enough to have a friend, jon, who was willing to share the experience with me. it had been a while since he had practiced yoga regularly, but since he was in excellent physical shape, he had no problem keeping up with matthew's fairly rigorous warm-up routine.

matthew demonstrated the partner poses with some of the regulars in his class. jon and i watched while they intertwined their bodies and either reached for, stretched away, and/or supported each other. knowing that neither of us had the flexibility they had, we gamely assumed our positions and followed instructions.

we stood facing each other, bent forward at the waist, and pushed our palms towards each other, essentially simulating a wall push pose. jon was much stronger than i was, so i had to really steel myself to keep from falling backwards.

we then sat facing each other, right leg straight ahead, soles of feet touching. our left legs were bent, either with the foot up against the right thigh, or with the foot turned out towards the back. while bending sideways and holding each other's right wrist, we had to reach over and hold each other's left wrist. the best we could do was interlock fingers, but we still managed to get a good side stretch.

we transitioned to a straddle position with our feet touching. part one required us to hold hands and take turns bending backward and pulling our partner forward. for part two, while holding each other's right hand, we bent towards our own right leg, reaching for the foot with our left hand. i was a few inches short of reaching my toes, so he gently gave me a push and i ended up holding on to his toes instead since they were easier to reach. we repeated the pose on the other side.

the next pose required us to be butt-to-butt, one sitting in child's pose (him) and the other facing the opposite direction in a low squat (me). i then had to bend backwards and drape myself over his curved back. this backbend was then repeated with me as the base and him as the supportee.

another partner backbend had him in downward dog, and me standing by his head, facing away, with each of my heels on the ground between his thumb and index finger. i then had to sit on his back and lie back with my head hanging freely over his backside. we switched sides, and surprisingly, i was able to support his entire body weight effortlessly while holding myself up with my arms and legs.

the last pose required us to take turns going into headstand and being carried by the other upside down, but since neither of us was skilled at doing a headstand without the aid of a wall, we decided to pass.

while we probably didn't have the grace nor finesse of olympic athletes, it was an enjoyable experience for both of us. sometimes things are best shared; this was definitely one of them.

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