Pose of the Week: Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

Vasisthasana (pronounced VAH-shees-THAH-suh-nuh), more commonly known as Side Plank Pose is a powerful arm balance. Vasisthasana gets its name from the Sanskrit word “vasistha,” which means “most excellent” or “best.” Side Plank Pose has many benefits such as strengthening the wrists, forearms, shoulders and spine. Vasisthasana is also a favorite because it challenges a yogi’s ability to remain calm and focused. This pose increases flexibility in the wrists and the full version (with the top leg raised perpendicular to the floor) opens the hips and hamstrings. Vasisthasana also tones the abdominal muscles and improves one’s concentration and balance. Side Plank Pose is an excellent preparation pose for more challenging arm balances.

While Vasisthasana can be a very beneficial pose, it should be avoided if one has recent or chronic inflammation or injury of the wrists, elbows or shoulders.

To perform Side Plank Pose:

1. Begin in Downward Facing Dog.

2. Lower the hips and shift the weight forward to come into Plank Pose.

3. While in Plank Pose keep the palms flat, body lengthened and the legs reaching throughout the heels.

4. Step the feet together and press the weight down through the right hand and forearm.

5. Slowly roll the body to the right and balance on the outer edge of the right foot.

6. Stack the left foot on top of the right foot and keep the legs straight.

Note: As a beginner to this pose, one can lower their right knee and shin to the yoga mat while keeping the hips lifted.

7. Extend the left arm to the sky and reach through the fingertips while lifting the hips.

8. Firm the thighs and press through the heels into the floor.

9. Bring the body into one long line. Gaze at the top thumb and press down through the bottom index finger.

10. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.

11. Exhale and slowly return to Plank Pose, then move into Downward Facing Dog.

12. Repeat the sequence on the opposite side.

13. After completing both sides rest in Child’s Pose.

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Sources:

http://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-side-plank-pose-in-yoga

http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/side-plank-pose/

http://yoga.about.com/od/yogaposes/a/sideplank.htm