Side Plank Vasisthsana
A challenging pose that creates stamina strength in the core and upper body is side plank. Vasisthasana is a challenge for the arms, the core, the legs and the wrists as well as helping to improve one’s balance. Frequently the novice yogi can struggle with the full pose but modifications and small progressions makes this pose accessible for most. Be careful if you have a wrist or shoulder injury and proceed with caution. The full pose may be too much until the body is healed and strengthened. This is a great way to create core strength particularly in the obliques without doing traditional crunches that can exacerbate a disk issue. The muscles stay lengthened while strengthening them.
Start by pacing your right hand firmly on the mat and find even weight through out the palm and fingers. Make sure the fingers are spread wide. Align the shoulder directly over the wrist and keep a slight micro-bend in the elbow to prevent hyperextension. This way the muscles are doing the work and not the joint. Reach your top hand towards the sky. Stack your shoulders and hips and extend out the left leg allowing the side of the foot to connect to the earth while keeping the right knee on the mat under the hip or slightly more towards the left foot. This will allow more weight bearing in the upper body to help create strength. Feel yourself lift from the obliques like there is a rope tied around your waist with someone lifting you upward towards the sky. Feel the dynamic sense of tension by pressing into the ground with your hand but again, but lifting upwards. This is a good modification with a wrist or shoulder injury and also if your lacking in core and upper body strength. The lift from the waist will take pressure out of the wrist.
As you progress, you can take your left foot off the ground and extend it straight out from the hip still keeping your right knee on the ground. Feel yourself reaching away with your heel keeping your foot flexed. This will add strength to your hip and gluteal muscles.
When you feel confident to come into the full pose, lift your right knee off the mat and extend it out stacking the side of the left foot over the right. Make sure you are still creating dynamic tension by connecting to the earth and lifting away to keep the energy flow of the pose. Take deep expansive breaths through the chest and maintain focus to keep your balance. To add a final challenge, the advanced version requires you to lift the top leg in the air. This takes even more strength and balance. Work up to 10 breaths or more in any variation that works for you. Make sure you can maintain your breath and alignment in which ever variation you choose.
When you are ready to come out of the pose, slowly lower down to your hip or come right into plank and then switch sides for a challenging core series. Side plank pose is a great way to create stamina strength and mental focus. This pose is completely weight bearing and like other asanas- no equipment is required so you can do it almost anywhere anytime!