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What is cuddle yoga?

Most people have a general idea of what yoga is, whether they practice or not. But ask them about cuddle yoga, and you’ll probably get a lot of raised eyebrows.

So, exactly what is cuddle yoga? Cuddle yoga combines the best of restorative yoga with the power of touch to keep couples feeling connected.

“My boyfriend and I once heard a prominent couples’ therapist advise couples to hug when they first see each other at the end of the work day,” said Amy Widner, a yoga instructor at the Floating Lotus. “Not just a quick, ‘oh, hi there, now let’s cook dinner and do chores,’ but holding on until you feel that rush of relaxation hormones. She called it a ‘hug till release.’ The idea is for you to associate your partner with that relaxation response – that source of refuge from the outside world.”

Amy teaches the Candlelight Restorative practice on Sundays at the Floating Lotus, and her boyfriend, Cliff Li, is a regular attendee. A newcomer to yoga, Cliff quickly came to love the relaxing, meditative pace of restorative yoga. A typical class includes gentle stretching, guided meditation and slowly easing into holding longer and longer yoga poses for a relaxing, reflective and restoring effect.

“I immediately liked the meditation aspect of restorative yoga,” said Cliff. “And, the more often I came to Amy’s classes, the more I also came to enjoy the poses and their effect on my body and mind.”

Some restorative poses are chiefly relaxing, while others can make you feel receptive and even a little vulnerable. Many are nourishing and protective and involve hugging a bolster, much as you would while cuddling with someone. “It didn’t take long for us to put two-and-two together,” Amy said. “We think touch makes our relationship better, and we think restorative helps us be calmer, more present partners. So it made sense for us to combine them.”

To introduce others to this partner-nurturing, cuddle yoga concept, Amy and Cliff will lead a Couples Restorative Workshop, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Floating Lotus. Cost is $40 per couple.

The workshop will begin with snacks and the option for an adult beverage or other special drink. Participants will enjoy light partner-assisted stretching, guided mediation, aromatherapy and a series of restorative yoga poses modified so that partners are touching. Often, partners will serve as props for each other or deepen the stretch associated with a particular pose.

To ensure a comfortable experience with plenty of props, participation is limited to 12 couples. Please sign up in advance through MINDBODY.

“I always leave restorative feeling great,” said Amy. “With cuddle yoga, Cliff and I get to associate those positive restorative feelings with each other – which is an added benefit we hope other people will enjoy as well.”

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