Build strength and composure during challenging situations with Side Plank, Vasisthasana. Personalize and honor your body by finding the best variation that best suits your body and level.
Side Plank Pose strengthens the core, arms, legs, shoulders, and wrists and helps to build balance and stamina in the body. The most challenging part of this pose, is working to find and balance of ease and effort while in the pose. Be careful to not hold the breath and work on finding a rhythm with the breath, by allowing the inhales to match the length of the exhales.
To do Side-Plank: Start on your hands and knees. Press into the palms and begin to straighten the knees, come into plank pose. Press the thighs up towards the ceiling, lengthen your tailbone towards your heels and draw the low belly in towards the spine. If you feel like your hips are sinking down towards the ground, and you lose the integrity of a “plank”, drop down to the knees.
If still in Plank, bring your heels together behind you in one straight line and bring your right palm and stack it directly under your right shoulder and then walk the palm a couple inches in front of the shoulder towards the front of the mat. Turn your heels open to the left and raise your arm up towards the sky. Flex your feet towards your face. Gaze can be down at the ground, towards the side of the room or up towards the elevated hand.
Notice the hips, lift the hips upwards towards the ceiling. Ideally, the body is creating one long line of energy from the crown of your head to the tips of the toes. Lengthen the tailbone towards the heels.
Once you created this line, press your hips gently forward and bring your head back creating even more precise alignment. Continue to stretch the extended arm towards the sky and feel the opening in the chest area. Find your drishti, focus your gaze with a “beam-like focus” on a non-moving object.
Drop down to the knee to modify the pose: Drop the right knee to the ground, perpendicular to the extended leg. Continue to create length through the fingertips, by reaching up towards the sky or bring the left arm by the ear and reach away from you, building arm strength and creating a nice lateral stretch on the left side.
The second knee modification and at an “intermediate pose” is to keep the right leg extended and cross the left leg over the right thigh, perpendicular to the right leg. Again, reaching upwards or bring the left arm up by the ear, creating more of a lateral, side-stretch.
Bent knee variation to challenge the body: Bend the right knee and bring it to the inner right thigh, with the toes facing down, like in standing tree pose. Option to stay here or grab onto the left big toe. Option to stay here with the knee bent and holding onto the big toe, while working on finding balance while finding equilibrium in the breath or start to straighten the left leg up towards the ceiling.
Repeat the same instructions on the opposite side, taking the same variation to build balance in the body and mind. Find the pose that can best challenge your body and mind, while maintaining the quality of the breath and finding a balance of ease and effort. When the breath becomes labored, you may need to modify in the pose. Check in with the body and the breath to best “listen” and become more aware while in the pose.
Drop into Child’s Pose, Balasana, to allow the breath to calm and the body to rest. Notice how you feel after challenging the body and focusing on the breath. Notice how it feels to treat the body with respect and by “listening” and responding accordingly.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, 500 hr. cert. yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga
*IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa and yin-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as Tues. and Thurs. evening classes.
*Christi teaches family and kids yoga. Contact her for more info. on kids and family yoga.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and in her home. Visit www.apothecarysociety.com/ciacono to learn more.
*Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.