Live, Love, Laugh – with Yoga Buddies

Meerly Wang practicing yoga with her friend, Joy, in a park in Singapore

Unable to stick to your yoga routine? The best way out is to find a friend who’s unable to do the same; and become each other’s motivation. 

By Kavita Chandran 

When I started my yoga practice nine years ago, my yoga buddies were two men. One was a cancer survivor and the other was an anxious man who had lost his brother. We would meet twice a week at 5.30 a.m. when the birds began chirping, and would practise for almost two hours. Together, we went through asanas, pranayama and meditation; one of us leading while the other two followed. No matter how late I slept the previous night, I made it a point not to ignore the alarm when it rang for my yoga session with these two buddies. As an anxious person myself who had found respite in yoga, I wanted to be there for my two friends, knowing well that with each passing session, we were able to tame our minds and win the war against our respective fear and anxiety. We were regular because we respected each other’s time, and enjoyed the energies that our practice brought. Also, none of us wanted to be thought of as slackers.

All too often these days, contact with others is taking place over text, Skype, or email—not face-to-face. It’s a dramatic shift from the way things were just a few decades ago.

Digital communication has, for many, become a default mode, while hanging out in the real world seems like a throwback—a trend that’s a bit worrisome when you consider that getting together with pals has significant benefits
for our health and well-being. Lucky are those who make time to share their practice with friends.

Miryam Acosta, a teacher at Pure Yoga in Singapore, says she often practices with her friend and colleague, Sara May Garcia, a fitness instructor, and it enables them to share the knowledge from their respective fields and have fun at the same time. “Practicing with Sara is like practicing with a long-lost sister,” Miryam says. “It brings us both closer.”2

A “yoga buddy” is not just a person you go to do yoga with in a studio. He or she is the person you have fun with and challenge yourselves—resulting in a deep intrinsic bond.

“Intimacy is healing,” says Dean Ornish, MD, president and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute (PMRI) in Sausalito, California. He adds that there’s “something really powerful” in being able to share your authentic self with others, instead of just a carefully curated Facebook profile or Instagram snapshot.

“Doing yoga with someone is not only limited to a physical connection, it goes beyond and makes two people understand each other’s limitations and strengths,” says Saumik Bera, founder of Real Yoga in Singapore. “It gives us a chance to interact and laugh together, while maintaining focus, coordination and balance.”

If you are disciplined and prefer to be on your own during your practice, that’s understandable. After a busy day of cacophony, whether at home or in the workplace, a little “me time on the mat” can do wonders. If, however, you crave a buddy but are too shy or just haven’t found the right person to team up with, all you have to do is ask.

Kiran Vuthandam did just that. After an exercise hiatus, he was craving to get back to yoga and was in search of someone to restart his practice. He learned that a fellow condo resident, Adil Khan,
was doing morning sessions by himself, and so he suggested they buddy up. “Two novices doing yoga together helps us improve together without the pressure of keeping up with the more advanced (practitioners),” says Kiran, who now practices regularly with Adil.

Doing yoga with a buddy helps acknowledge your common humanity and intensifies your capacity for joy. Why not use this great tool to create the relationships you crave?

Anil and Meena Kumar (photo above) went from being yoga buddies to life buddies.

Inviting loved ones to practice yoga with you could trigger further breakthroughs. Kate Feldman, co-director of the Conscious Relationships Institute in Hesperus, Colorado often asks her clients
to perform tandem poses. “They always laugh and say: ‘Oh, my knees!’ or, ‘Oh, my hamstrings!’ But their heart rates go down—and afterward they hug on impulse.”

Yoga strengthens ties with friends and family. Encourage family members to join you in a home practice. It can be a great way to embrace, laugh, and bond with each other.

Melinda Todd, a freelance writer in New York, contributed to this article.