13 Hard Yoga Poses For Two People: A Full Body Challenge For 2

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As yoga took the world by storm, the natural consequence was the incredible evolution of the practice. Over centuries, yoga has developed in ways ancient sages could never imagine.

Undoubtedly, the physical and spiritual components of yoga underwent a makeover, especially in the West. One of the more significant changes was the fact that yoga went from a solitary self-improvement discipline to a variety of distinct practices.

One significant change was the emergence of yoga that involved multiple practitioners that would combine their efforts to perform compound postures, ranging from beginner- and family-friendly, to hard yoga poses for 2 reserved for advanced practitioners.

In this article, we will get to the bottom of:

three couples practicing hard yoga for two people

What is Acro Yoga

Acro Yoga is a modern take on a yoga practice that requires at least two practitioners. As evident by its name, it combines elements of traditional asana practice and acrobatics.

The benefits of yoga for 2 involve: improved communication, balance, wellness, core strength, and lots of fun!

The postures in Acro Yoga range from super-accessible and beginner-friendly, to incredibly challenging, suitable only for advanced practitioners. If you’re interested in the latter, you’ve come to the right place!

Roles in Acro Yoga

There are two main roles in partner yoga poses: the base and the flyer.

  1. The base is a person who has a steady contact with the ground, in order to support the partial or full weight of the flyer. This person needs a good amount of body strength, particularly core strength.
  2. In turn, the flyer is the practitioner who has little to no contact with the ground. Most commonly, the flyer is the person performing the more advanced posture, while the base is responsible for keeping the flyer “afloat”.
  3. There is a third role in acro yoga, which often gets overlooked. However, even in poses designed for two people, it’s recommended to have a spotter. This could be a yoga instructor or a good friend!

Their job is to ensure the safety of the base and the flyer. They usually guide the practitioners into the pose and stand by in case something goes wrong.

6 Hard Yoga Poses for Two People

1. Camel and Crow – Reference Photo

This beautiful Acro Yoga shape combines two familiar advanced yoga poses: Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Crow Pose (Bakasana).

First, the base must get established in Camel Pose, with shoulders strictly aligned above the ankles. The base’s arms act as “columns”, keeping a strong and steady foundation in place.

Then, the flyer must make their way up, positioning their palms on the base’s shoulders. From there, it’s a matter of transferring the weight forward and lifting into Crow Pose.

yogi doing crow pose in a yoga studio

What makes this yoga pose difficult?

  • Even before the flyer can perform Crow Pose, they face the challenge of climbing on top of their partner without throwing them off balance.
  • Arm balancing is difficult enough on an even surface, let alone on someone’s shoulders while elevated a couple of feet from the ground.
  • If the flyer’s balance tips too far forward, they risk falling face-first and injuring their partner. This pose is best performed with an experienced spotter.

2. Lean Back Counterbalance – Reference Photo

This is an excellent intermediate yoga challenge for Acro Yoga enthusiasts. It’s less about strength, and more about staying in tune with your partner in order to maintain balance and build trust.

In essence, it requires the flyer to “sit” on the base’s lap face-to-face, as the base is floating in Chair Pose (Utkatasana).

From here, the flyer must carefully straighten each leg, engaging the quads, tucking each foot into the base’s armpit and flexing the ankles to stop the feet from slipping out. This action is performed while both partners gradually lean back to maintain balance.

Once both of the flyer’s feet are off the ground and locked into place, the participants can start to lean away from each other further and further, until their bodies float parallel to the floor.

woman doing chair pose by a lake

What makes this yoga pose difficult?

  • This pose requires incredible core strength in order to keep the body in a stiff plank position.
  • Counterbalancing is an intricate art, where both parties must be keenly aware of each other’s movements.
  • It is just as challenging to exit the pose as it is to enter it.

3. Flying Scorpion – Reference Photo

This pose is an extension of Acro hand-to-shoulder inversion from a traditional L-base position.

The base must support the flyer’s shoulders as the latter carefully inverts, holding onto their partner’s legs for balance.

Next, the flyer can slowly transition into Scorpion backbend (Vrischikasana), pushing their chest downwards, engaging their back muscles, and attempting to make contact between their feet and their head.

What makes this yoga pose difficult?

  • Scorpion Pose is an advanced backbend that should not be attempted by anyone with an insufficient level of spine flexibility.
  • The base must keep their position as steady as possible while the flyer shifts their balance.
  • This pose requires endurance from both parties, as it may take a while from start to finish.
  • Maybe best to attempt during yoga classes with added support from a yoga teacher.
woman doing a scorpion forearm stand

4. Double Stag Counterbalance – Reference Photo

Starting in a similar position to Flying Camel above, the flyer must first get established in a hand-to-shoulder inversion facing the base’s legs.

The following part is quite tricky. As the base bends one leg, the flyer must reach out and interlace their fingers around the back of the base’s knee.

With the flyer bending one of their legs to mirror their partner, they can start to lean their weight backwards while maintaining a strong, straight line with their body.

Meanwhile, as the flyer pulls on the back of the base’s knee, the base can stiffen their core and lift their hips, extending the straight leg diagonally away from the flyer. At this point, the only grounding contact are the base’s head and shoulder blades.

What makes this yoga pose difficult?

  • Entering this pose requires keen awareness and constant communication from both parties.
  • The flyer has very little visibility. If the balance goes awry, they risk falling backward.
  • For the base, there is a lot of pressure resting on their neck, which must be regarded with utmost care.

5. Plow and Wheel – Reference Photo

On the surface, this pose is fairly straightforward. The base must get established in Plow Pose (Halasana), while the flyer performs Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana).

In practice, however, it’s not that easy. It requires extreme flexibility from the flyer, as well as the ability to lift into Wheel Pose from an awkward position.

woman doing a full wheel pose on a yoga mat

The best way to do so is to lie back on top of the base’s legs. Once the feet are safely nested in the base’s hands, the flyer can grasp their partner’s ankles or shins and lift into the backbend.

What makes this yoga pose difficult?

  • Wheel Pose is considered an intermediate to advanced yoga asana, and it is made more challenging with a shorter base (the distance between hands and feet).
  • The base already bears a lot of weight on their neck in Plow Pose. Adding a flyer to the equation means extra pressure on the upper spine.
  • The base must use their hands to support the flyer’s feet, which takes away an extra point of balance.

6. Low Hand-to-Hand – Reference Photo

If one of the parties has reached a level in their practice to perform a Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), this is an excellent opportunity for them to test their balance.

In this variation of hand-to-hand, the base starts in a supine position, with their elbows bent to 90 degrees and pressed against their ribcage. The forearms should be positioned perpendicular to the ground.

The flyer locks hands with the base, typically facing in the opposite direction to create the optimum amount of wrist stability.

With the help of a spotter, the flyer can leap into their preferred Handstand position and find their balance. The base must adjust their grip and wrist position to curate the flyer’s balance.

woman doing a stag handstand on a rock

What makes this yoga pose difficult?

  • Handstand is one of the most advanced inversions in yoga, which is even harder when you’re not balancing on steady ground.
  • Lifting into this inversion is more difficult, requiring extra leg power to invert.
  • Any variation of hand-to-hand is very taxing on the wrists, both for the flyer and the base.

Bonus 2 person yoga poses:

Double Boat Pose

Face each other and come into boat pose, feet touching. Lengthen the spine and legs and hold your partner’s hands.

Double Plank Pose

The base must do a standard plank pose and the flyer must come into a plank pose the other way around on top of the base. The tops of the flyer’s feet resting on the partner’s shoulders, the right hand clasping the base’s left ankle, and the left hand on the partner’s right ankle.

Double Downward Facing Dog Pose

The base comes into a regular downward facing dog. The flyer places their hands in front of the base’s. The flyer must walk their feet up the base’s back, placing their feet on the base’s lower back.

Partner’s Tree Pose

Stand side by side, each lifting the outer leg and place the sole of the outer foot against the inner thigh, opening the hip flexors. Raise your center arms, pressing the palms together. With the outside hands, come into couple’s prayer pose, pressing eachother’s palms together. Raise your Switch sides.

Two Person Standing Forward Fold

Stand back to back and fold down into forward fold, hamstrings facing each other. Take deep breaths as you drop deeper into the fold. Hold each other’s hands, or elbows and pull each other in, releasing the upper back.

Two Person Wide Legged Seated Forward Fold

Sit in a wide legged seated position facing each other, lower body rooted into the mat, feet touching. Hold hands with your partner and take it in turns to lean back and gently stretch the other yogi forward into a forward bend, releasing their upper body. This is great to reduce back pain.

Partner’s Dancer Pose

Face each other, come into dancer pose, and hold each other’s outstretched hands for stability.

After your practice, take a rest in one of the easy yoga poses. Consider child’s pose, arms overhead or by your sides, releasing the whole body.

Safety in Acro Yoga

In Acro Yoga, it’s twice as important to be present and aware of risks and contraindications, especially during advanced practice.

After all, when you perform hard yoga poses for 2, you are responsible both for your own and your partner’s safety.

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your practice goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Warm up and cool down. Advanced yoga practitioners and professional athletes know that warm-up and cool-down is just as essential for injury prevention as it is to complete beginners.
  • Choose an appropriate environment. It’s best to practice in a spacious studio or gymnastics gym, where you have as few hazards as possible.
  • Communicate with your partner. When you practice advanced Acro, communication is key!
  • Practice with a spotter (or spotters). Having another person present to watch over you and guide you will significantly reduce a risk of an accident.
  • If you’re new to couples yoga poses and would like some guidance, book into a yoga session with yoga teachers who specialize in two person yoga poses.

* please note that many Acro Yoga poses are known by a variety of names, some more established than others. The author has used their discretion to select the names they deemed most appropriate for the features postures.

Eager to try some hard yoga poses for two people? Try this intermediate acro yoga flow:

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An avid yoga practitioner, Cat completed her training as a Hatha yoga teacher in 2016. She firmly believes that with the right guidance, yoga can benefit everyone, regardless of age, gender, size, or ability. With a background in journalism, Cat realized she could share her yoga experience with others, kickstarting her freelance writing career.

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