Positive Peer Pressure & Partner Poses

One of my favorite times during my yoga practices are when we work on partner poses.  Though this can be a very nerve-wracking time for some, I find the partner poses to be very rewarding.  Partner poses may evoke fear that your deodorant is not doing its job, your legs may not feel silky smooth, you may be too heavy/clumsy/weak to fulfill your duty to your partner, or even that your partner may know/have to feel that you sweat during yoga.  All of these fears have crossed my mind before and during partner poses, and though they are worrisome, I know that my partner may have the same fears as I, and that they are probably too caught up in the exercise to know or care if my legs are a little stubbily or that the back of my shirt is damp.  Once I get over these initial concerns ( which tend to happen with each new partner) I am able to fully immerse myself in the partner poses and experience great yoga successes.

Though these concerns may hinder us, they can also help to fuel the positive peer pressure that I feel when doing partner poses. I am more focused on myself and my technique when performing partner poses so as not to hurt my partner or embarrass myself. I also know that I give a lot more effort and am able to overcome more fears/challenges, when I have people “watching” me.  Alone I have only been able to achieve so much, but with an audience, and even supporters, I am able to achieve much more than I could have ever thought possible.

Many associate peer pressure with things like bullying, troubled youth, crime, drinking/drugs, and other negative activities.  Though I feel that though peer pressure can cause people to do things that are harmful to themselves and others, peer pressure can also be a positive motivator to help people achieve their goals.

Partner poses give us support within our “zone of proximal development.”  This means that with the help of a partner, we are able to achieve something that we are not able to or ready to achieve individually.  For instance, I am currently working on “crow.” Most days I am able to hold crow for a few seconds, but some days are better than others. I am also working on various inversions, and though I am slowly improving, I have a long ways to go before I will be doing some of the tougher inversions on my own.  With the help of a partner activity, and a few partners/cheerleaders, I was able to successfully transition from crow to a handstand.  This activity gave me both the physical and the mental support that I needed to allow my body and mind to achieve these positions.  Without the help of my partners, I know that at this time I would not have the strength, stamina, bodily control, or confidence to be able to do the exercise on my own.

Achievements during partner poses not only help me to achieve things that I never thought possible during that exercise, they also help to build my confidence to achieve new poses on my own and help me to overcome fears. They also help to teach the body various movements and muscles to use in order to help achieve those poses, or similar poses, individually.  I look forward to participating in partner poses each day when I go to yoga and those poses are the ones that I am most proud of when I leave.  All of these factors help to contribute to the motivation that I feel to both practice yoga and to improve upon my practice.  Each day that I learn and grow during yoga only makes me more determined to continue that growth in later practices.

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