Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Favorite Yoga Pose - Vasisthsana (side plank)

I have many favorites yoga poses and admittedly some that I do not like at all. But lately I have loved the feeling that I get when I practice and teach Vasisthsana or side plank.  I'm all over heart openers and there is an expansion of the side body, lung capacity, and yes, the heart as you lift the hips and stretch into your top obliques. Love it. It is also considered a Rx for the scattered mind, something this yoga mama needs a little help with at times.
As I teach I build in it into a lot of my sequences. This pose is accessible to many.  But please, do not practice if you have wrist complications or recent shoulder injuries.

Other benefits include: strengthening the shoulder girdle, arms, abdominal muscles, and legs.  Also strengthens and stretches the wrists.
  • Begin in Adho Muka Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog
  • Lengthen your body forward into plank.  As you begin to feel your knuckles activate, drop your left knee to the floor. Turn your right foot to the right.
  • Your hand is the staff.  Check to make sure there is a very slight angle from the hand to the shoulder. Alignment is key to this pose. Firm up your tricep muscles and  press your index fingers into the mat. Float your right arm up and open your heart.
  • At this point you can stay here in modified plank pose (or gate) and just appreciate the heart opening benefits.  Or,
  • lengthen through your  left leg and engage your lower oblique muscles.  Stack your right leg on top of your left, heels together.  Keep your heels active; they are the foundation of this pose. Lift your lower hips and breath in as you expand and create space throughout your chest.
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths and then return to Downward Facing Dog. 
  • Repeat for your left side.
Finish by practicing Balasana or child's pose. Draw your arms back towards your hips and allow your shoulders to melt as you focus on your breath. 

I would love to hear from you.  What is your favorite pose?

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