Learning to move with and be moved by someone else is an amazing experience, and much easier than you think. There’s more to partner yoga than just pretty shapes and flashy Instagram posts. Don’t worry about how it looks—bring awareness to how it feels.
In this series, Daniel Scott—yogi provocateur and ambassador of trust—offers valuable insight on how to best share your movement practice with ease, accessibility, and fun. Want to try Acro? Daniel and his fiance and acro partner Lauren Matters are teaching at both Wanderlust Stratton and Wanderlust Whistler this year.
Imagine bone stacking as the simple act of creating intuitive skeletal alignment. Instead of using muscle to lift or hold weight, these exercise optimize the power of bone to support weight better—both our partner’s and our own.
To truly understand the skeleton, one must appreciate the meat it comes wrapped in… that’s where tightness comes in. By using muscle to align bones, we can find proper alignment to maximize our ability to support weight.
Before You Begin: Find Your Bones
Bones carry weight. Muscles align bones. Muscles tire, bones don’t. Which position would you rather hold while waiting in line for a movie: Tadasana or Chair?
Exercise 1: The Thinker
BASE (partner receiving weight): You’ve got it pretty easy for now: Simply find a comfortable child’s pose. If you’ve got tight hips or sensitive knees, consider placing a rolled towel or yoga mat behind the knee creases for added comfort.
FLYER (partner sharing weight): Locate your partner’s sacrum—the wide, flat bone at the base of the spine, usually located just below the waistline of their pants. Facing away from the base, gently lower yourself into a comfortable seat until you feel comfortable giving full weight. Simple, effective, and often quite lovely for the base!
Advanced variation: BASE, try bringing your FLYER up to tabletop. FLYER, work with them to let it happen!
Exercise 2: Plank Check
Want more challenge? Have the BASE extend their legs into plank, and actively stack the FLYER’s shoulders over theirs! Everyone keeps their elbows extended and fingers spread wide, pouring weight evenly between the base of the palm and fingertips.
Pro-Tip: FLYERS, move slowly! Think less force (push) and more gentle (stack). Once you’ve got a good connection, try walking your feet a few steps away from your BASE. Communicate freely. Don’t break your partner—build them up!
Exercise 3: Plank on Plank
Don’t worry—this is much easier than it looks. For those who need more instruction than “Do a plank on someone else’s plank,” here are a few tips.
- Plank on bottom: BASE. Plank on top: FLYER
- BASE plank setup: Stack shoulders over wrists, keep your core engaged to support your back, neck in line with your spine (don’t lift your chin!), thighs tone, and…
- Make sure BASE ankles and feet are placed as wide as FLYER’s shoulders! It’s much easier to stack bones vertically than at an angle.
- FLYER grabs BASE’s legs just above the ankles, thumbs inward and fingers wrapped around the outside.
- FLYER places the tops of pointed feet on the shoulder blades of BASE. Too tall? Use shins instead.
- Press down to lift up! This keeps the FLYER active and BASE solid.
- BASE should keep hips in line with ankles and shoulders. Lower your butt if you feel your FLYER’s knees resting on it.
Advanced variation: Try adding movement in both positions, such as lifting hands or feet or doing a push-up.
Exercise 3: Tabletop Games
BASE (partner receiving weight): Rocks a solid tabletop position, with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Lengthen your lower back by slightly lifting your tailbone and keeping your core engaged.
FLYER (partner sharing weight): Stacking hands on BASE’s shoulders, gently stack your shins (one at a time, of course) onto their sacrum.
Pro-Tip: Sliding off? FLYER, squeeze your knees together. BASE, your partner will move in the direction of your tailbone. Rounding (Cat Pose) will slide them towards your feet. Arching (Cow Pose) slides them into your middle back, which is uncomfortable and doesn’t follow the principles of bone stacking!
Do your best to find alignment of shoulders over shoulders, hips over hips. Once you’ve learned how stacked bones can carry weight, let’s take this party up a notch and play with how to move it!
Exercise 4: Ride the Dragon
- FLYER wraps fingers over the front of the BASE’s shoulders.
- BASE initiates movement by pouring weight back toward their legs until the hands become light, keeping lower back long to support the FLYER’s balance.
- FLYER needs to adjust their body shape to help direct the balance of gravity.
Pro-Tip: Both partners keep chins and chest lifted, moving slowly until all weight is stacked through the lower body. The Advanced Variation occurs when both partners can comfortably spread their wings. Fire breathing is optional, of course.
Most importantly: Go slow, and remember to have fun! Remember, this is about trust-building and deepening your practice. Great Instagram photos are just a bonus.
Daniel Scott is yogi provocateur offering a fresh alternative to the traditional “yoga voice”. His classes are a lively mix of balance and improv, strength and flexibility, breath and body. With light heart and open mind, Daniel focuses on moving into postures, not through them. A globally renowned ashtanga-vinyasa teacher and Certified Level 2 AcroYoga instructor, Daniel enjoys barefoot running, street art, good coffee, large quantities, and great qualities. Deeply dedicated to sharing in the immense journey from self-conscious to self-aware, Daniel Scott strives to answer the ever-present question: Are you moving or being moved?