By Cindy Brewer for the SNAP
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 —
Side Plank, or Vasisthasana, is a yoga pose that is also used in other forms of exercise, as well. In Pilates, we call it Side Bend and flow up and down from a seated pose to the balance. Side Plank is used by personal trainers, boxers and the military because it is such a great pose for the whole body.
Vasisthasana is one of my favorite poses because there are so many different variations I can use depending on what I am teaching or practicing on a given day. In my Gentle Yoga class, it becomes accessible to most people when we take the bottom knee down to the floor and extend the top leg out with the foot flat and toes facing forward. In my Vinyasa or Hot Yoga classes, it becomes more challenging when we lift the top leg to Tree Pose, lift the top leg out to the side like Balancing Half Moon, or take the big toe with the peace fingers for Big Toe Hold. If I feel like opening the shoulders and chest, I can allow the fingers of the top arm to fall back as I lift my heart and gaze up toward the sky.
This pose will strengthen your abdominals, waist, legs and arms. It stretches the wrists and ankles while it helps to improve balance and focus. If you have any wrist issues, you can practice the posture on your forearm instead.
To practice basic Side Plank, begin in a two-armed Plank pose as if you are going to do a push-up. Pull your navel to your spine as you begin to roll onto your right hand and foot, lifting your left fingers skyward. Hold your gaze very still on your Drishti because this is quite a difficult pose in regards to balance. Work the sole of your right foot down toward the floor, stretching the inner ankle as you provide yourself with more stability and a stronger foundation. Feel that the right side of your body is arcing as the left hip reaches upward. The legs are long and straight and the energy in the body is expanding in all directions.
Stay in the pose for five to seven breaths in and out through your nose, or see how long you are able to hold it. To come out of the pose, return to your two arm plank and lower to your belly, resting your arms by your sides. Always repeat the pose on the left side and try to take the same variation for more balance in the body.