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.
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-anna), offers a long list of benefits for both the physical and subtle bodies. Thanks to its many different variations and modifications, there are plenty of ways for individuals of all levels to appreciate the chest-opening and chakra-opening effects of camel pose.
Philosophy + Origin
Camel pose is named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back, however there are other ways to consider the name when approaching the posture. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost methodical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will help you find its benefits safely. Camels use their humps as food reserves, like well-packed bags ready to be used when needed. This type of physical preparation, a part of the camel’s natural adaptation for survival, is essential for this pose as well. Take your time to gather and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to take a back-bending journey to ensure that you come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.