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.
Agnistambhasana: Firelog Pose
Agnistambhasana (AG-nee-stahm-BAHS-ah-nah) is sometimes referred to as double pigeon pose because the legs take a similar shape as they do in pigeon pose. Firelog pose creates a deep stretch in the outer hips and space in the low back.
Philosophy + Origin
Fire (agni) is a transformative element. Agnistambhasana can be very uncomfortable as many people carry deep tension in their hips. See if you can feel the fire building in your hips and with your breath as you hold this pose.
- Sit on a folded blanket or block to create more space for your hips.
- Place your top leg in front of your bottom leg (rather than on top of it) to ease pressure on the knees.
- Use a block under your top ankle to release pressure on your bottom leg.
- Use a block under your top knee to help the hip relax and to relieve discomfort in the knee.