This week, we are taking a deep look at side plank, vasisthasana in Sanskrit.
This is a powerhouse move, as it not only strengthens the abs, especially the obliques and the serratus anterior, but works the shoulders and legs as well. It’s a full-body strength move with lots of variations, which we’ll get to over the next few days.
Let’s Do It
- Begin in plank. Take your weight to the left side, rolling onto your left arm and coming onto the edge your left foot.
- Stack your right foot on top of your left.
- Extend your right arm to the sky, lifting from your right ribs through your fingertips.
- Lift your hips, as if a string is pulling your right hip to the sky.
- Strengthen your quads and your feet.
- Push into the ground with your left arm, driving the floor away, hugging muscle to bone.
- Reach your shoulders away from each other.
- Gaze can be upwards if it feels OK on your neck. Otherwise adjust your gaze so as to not strain your neck.
- Hold your side plank for five full breaths.
- Switch sides.
Kneeling side plank
This is a great place to start, especially if you feel wobbly. You can get great extension without having to worry about balance. You can work on lifting your hip, engaging your core and expanding in your chest and shoulders. Don’t forget to keep your extended leg engaged and the sole of the foot on the floor.
Another great option to make this pose feel more accessible. Scissoring the feet provides more stability, but you can still get into a full leg extension.
Forearm Side Plank
If for any reason, a straight-arm version of side plank is not comfortable, come onto your forearm. Have your elbow stacked under your shoulder, and work to push away from the ground so you don’t collapse into your shoulder. Always extend upwards.
To increase the challenge, lift your top leg. Keep your thighs strong and your hips lifted.
Use the next few days to challenge your ability. You may want to start in a kneeling side plank and work up from there. You might experiment with peaking at extended side plank for a breath or two.
Please let me know if you have any questions. And come practice with me today! 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at Soul Yoga.