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.
Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose
An intelligent pose to help lengthen the spine and relieve mental stress, uttana shishosana (OO-ta-NAH she-SHO-sahna), is a hybrid pose — a cross between balasana (child’s pose) and adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Uttana shishosana is a great way to energize the physical and subtle bodies for when you’re feeling fatigued, or when you’ve been stuck behind a desk or in a chair all day. Energetically, the posture has the benefits of increasing both self-confidence and self-love.
Philosophy + Origin
Uttana shishosana is a great reminder of why we practice yoga: to feel better and to find tools to help us live our best lives. Named because of the way dogs and puppies stretch, this posture, while far from fancy, is effective in its simplicity. As humans, it’s easy to want to complicate life, always looking to the past or future in order to find meaning.
Dogs, on the other hand, are great at being present. Loyal and playful, our canine companions have a lot to teach us about relaxing and taking care of ourselves and those we love. As you practice extended puppy pose, allow yourself to settle into your senses. Allow yourself to linger (and lengthen) in the feel-good sensations.