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.
Utkatasana: Chair Pose
A challenging pose with hidden benefits, utkatasana (OOT-kah-TAHS-anna) works your body inside and out. Aside from strengthening your legs, this powerful pose also improves the health of your diaphragm and stimulates your heart. Practicing regularly will not only increase your physical endurance, it also encourages your chest and arms to open, creating more space in your body energetically.
Philosophy + Origin
While sitting in a chair is a common act for most of us today, chairs were once, and in some locations still are, considered a luxury. A throne in particular is a seat of power, one assumed by leaders around the world. The pose utkatasana, translated to mean powerful pose, invites individuals to sit on their throne, their seat of power. Embracing the challenge of the pose, and recognizing the strength that is generated when assumed thoughtfully and in proper alignment (physically and spiritually), you can begin to refine all aspects of your life, allowing yourself to step into roles of leadership and responsibility with clarity and confidence.