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. Looking to try AcroYoga with Daniel? He and other luminaries are Wanderlust presenters. Catch them at a Festival or Wanderlust event near you! Learn more.
Core doesn’t have to mean another boring article about perfecting your swimsuit body, unleashing 12-pack abs, or convincing you how important a strong core is to a healthy movement practice. Real talk: Core work can be fun, especially when you bring a friend. Check out these six amazing partner yoga fitness core exercises—and for goodness sake, please remember this: go slowly. Build your partner up, don’t break them down.
Exercise 1: Houdini Fingers
Harry Houdini, in addition to being a legendary escape artist, had a standing challenge that he could withstand any punch to the abdomen. His technique was based on being able to engage his core quickly inwards towards his spine to receive the blow as it landed.
Ask your friend to keep their shoulders stacked over their hips over their feet, and under no circumstance should they let you touch their belly button. Essentially, we’re practicing a slow motion version of Houdini’s 99 percent effective technique (search “Houdini Death” for more info about that 1 percent, and marvel at how core awareness can save your life)!
Exercise 2: Throwaways
Easy to set up (but challenging) this exercise is sure to keep both your core and brain fully engaged!
aPartner A lays down on their back with their legs lifted and squeezed together, arms lifted overhead with hands clamped firmly on Partner B’s calves. Partner B tucks their feet under Partner A’s shoulders, and begins (slowly at first) to throw those legs back and forth. It’s super easy to get carried away here (which usually results in DANGER), so make sure to start with gentle movements so both partners can feel out their strengths and limitations.
Exercise 3: Side Plank High Fives
Does this exercise fire up on a multitude of levels?! Prepare for feel those obliques (side body muscles), as well as toning your shoulders and hips.
Both partners get into side plank back to back. Can’t rock an extended arm? Totally cool! Feel free to start on your forearm. Extend the top arms straight up, tap knuckles, and then reach under your lower side body with a luxuriously slow rotation for another tappers. Remember to keep those hips lifted.
Exercise 4: Plank Stack
Plank, by itself, is a pretty good core strengthening posture. It helps to stabilize the midline and create horizontal alignment from heels to shoulders through your hips. Why not add a little extra oomph to challenge those abs?
Partner A starts in tabletop position (all fours). Partner B places hands on the floor perpendicular to A’s hips and hooks the top of their feet (toes & ankles pointed) on A’s sacrum. B extends into full plank, A extends into full plank (one leg at a time for an easier variation), and then marvel at how much fun it is to be a friendship bridge!
Exercise 5: Slapfight!
You liking the plank work? Great. It never has to end.
While facing your partner in plank, both lift your right hand and slap it out. Place it back down, and repeat on the other side. Too easy? Awesome! Try to move the rest of your body as little as possible. Still too easy? Throw a push up after each slap. Want more power? Impressive… Instead of slapping, keep your palms connected, push into your partner’s arm, and tell them a joke. After all, laughter is a great core workout.
Exercise 6: Rocky
Sit facing your partner with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Interlock ankles, knowing that whoever has the inside wrap has it much easier than the other. Proceed to bang out a zillion good old fashioned sit-ups, either one at a time (with some cool looking punch high-fives) or both firing away (hardcore pattycake style).
Feeling strong? Stable? Do you have the eye of the tiger? Check out the GIF above and perform your very own variation of arguably the best cinematic training montage of any action film ever made.
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?