Vasisthasana: Side Plank Pose
Vasisthasana (vah-sish-TAHS-anna) comes in many variations. At its core, side plank is a challenging arm balance that requires core and shoulder strength.
Philosophy + Origin
The word “vasistha” appears in the yogic tradition as the name of several sages. This pose honors all the vasistha sages, including an array of rishis and prajapatis (lords of creation). In one story of Vasistha, he was the proud owner of a famous wish-granting cow named Nandini that helped Vashistha acquire vast wealth. While the Sanskrit translation of this pose is “Sage Vasistha’s pose,” the common translation is “side plank.”
- Wrist relief: To take your wrists out of the equation, practice with your forearm on the ground rather than your palm.
- Wall: Place your feet firmly against a wall as you lift up into side plank for a more grounded, stable variation.
- Neck relief: Look down or straight forward to find a comfortable variation for your neck.
- Balance-aid: Option to take your bottom knee to the ground for additional support. Another option is to keep the bottom leg extended and take the top foot to the ground in front of you.
- Balance challenge: Lift your hips as high as you can, then float your top leg up.
- Begin in high plank with hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Drop your heels to the right and shift your weight to your right hand.
- Slowly reach your left hand up to the ceiling, opening your chest and hips to the left side of your mat. Option to keep your feet staggered, stack the left foot on top of the right, or place your left foot in front of your right (see photo).
- Press down into the base knuckles of your grounded hand and hug your shoulder blades toward each other and down toward your hips.
- Squeeze the inseam of both legs toward each other and imagine they can roll back behind you (internal rotation).
- Reach the crown of your head away from your heels.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
- Vasistha = most excellent, best
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens arms, wrists, core, and legs.
- Improves physical balance.
- Improves mental and emotional balance.
- Boosts confidence.
Vrksasana: Tree Pose
Vrksasana (vrik-SHAHS-ah-nah) is a deceptively challenging pose. While at first glance tree pose may seem easy, the combination of strength, balance, and flexibility required can take lots of practice. Never fear, props like a wall or a chair can come in handy while finding the balance point of the pose, and there are plenty of variations to fit everyone’s practice. This is a great pose to practice dristi (focused gaze) to help with balance.
Philosophy + Origin
In many Indian traditions, trees, specifically the ashoka tree, are symbols of love and devotion. Many cultures seek the knowledge of trees for healing, searching their branches, trunks, leaves, and roots for powerful medicine. Patient by nature, trees are quiet and steady, living their long lives in rhythm with the seasons and the circadian rhythm of the world. In Indian literature, trees often make appearances as sacred symbols of the universe, a bridge between creator and individual.