āsana lab: anusara’s vasiṣṭhāsana (side plank pose)

Vasiṣṭha was the first of Brahmā’s mind-born sons. Brahmā created Vasiṣṭha from his thought with the intention of providing a template for eliminating the sorrows of existence. He taught him “you are not the body and mind you are the infinite; you are not bound, your true nature is limitless.”

Vasiṣṭhāsana teaches us to connect to the present moment even though it might be painful. The posture itself teaches us to focus, concentrate and find our balance being present. In Vasiṣṭhāsana, the hand rooted on the floor might shake and we might appreciate that but not resist it. Sometimes it’s necessary in life to receive added support.

Vasiṣṭhāsana builds core strength, improves balance, opens the hips and hamstrings and increases strength and flexibility of the arms and shoulders as well as the legs. This pose should not be practiced if you have wrist, shoulder or elbow injuries.

Setting up the Pose

The key to this pose is to keep the head of the arm bones back and the shoulder blades firmly on the back.

1 – Establish the foundation of the pose in downward dog by spreading the fingers and from the creases of the wrist ground the knuckles and the tips of fingers as you were clawing the earth so that the energy lifts away from the wrists. Engage the muscles in the arms drawing from foundation into shoulders and from bottom of the shoulder blades extending back.

2 –  From downward dog, roll onto the right hand and outer edge of the right foot to side plank, stacking the legs and spreading the toes so the feet are active. It’s very important to keep the side body lifted, so the supporting hand is five to six inches further forward on the mat and not stacked right under the shoulder.

3 –  Pull the head of the arm bones back so the shoulder blades are drawing onto the back ribs then broaden the shoulders and from the centre of the chest / heart root back down into the earth.

4 –  Bring the top leg toward the raised hand and keeping the integration of the shoulders with the side body lifted, bend the top leg and bring the knee and foot toward your hand.

5 – If you wish to reach for the foot, press it into the hand as you straighten the leg and pull back on the foot with the hand. Root from the pelvis down into the supported foot.

6 – Another option is to drop the top foot behind you and lift the hips into Wild Thing, pictured here.

7 – Shine brightly!

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