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Monthly Inspiration: August 2016

Vashisthasana (Side Plank)

By Nianna Bray

Foundational pose for more advanced asana that works the hips, core, thighs and shoulders.

Vashistha was one of the great sages of the yoga tradition.

He is said to be a chief author in the mandala 7 of the Rig Veda, an ancient sanskrit text from which all other texts follow. Vashista had the great task of being a yoga teacher to Lord Rama. Rama was the avatar, an incarnation of Vishnu, the god responsible for keeping the world in balance and harmony.

Like all of us we are born on this planet with the innocents of a child, deeply connected to our inner most nature and one with all creation. Throughout the course of life we forget that we are Divine and that within us is a great light and source of love. We spend our adult lives searching outside for something or someone to soothe the pain of forgetting our own divine nature. Each of us are peace keepers yet we often make choices that bring about our own suffering. Our teachers are simply guides on the path, pointing toward home, helping us to remember.

As a yoga teacher my work is to lead people back to themselves where the love they need is waiting to be received. A good teacher like Vashistha won’t tell you what to do, or what to think, or give you The Answer. Any teacher worth their salt will challenge your perception, make your think for yourself and encourage you to take full responsibility for your life. She will point you toward your own heart where healing, happiness, and true love is found.

I love the pose vashisthasana, named after the sage Vashishta, because it lays a solid foundation for many advanced poses and transitions. On the physical level this pose strengthens the arms and waist and creates elegant balance through the core, back, hips and shoulder stabilizers. Specifically it tones the inner thighs and outer hips as well as the triceps and underarm area (aka arm flab). When properly in the posture one feels aligned, present, strong and able.

PRACTICE:

Begin in plank pose. Bring the feet and legs together. Keep both ankles (dorsi) flexed as you shift onto the outer edge of your right foot and stack the left foot on top.

Make sure to align your right hand with your right foot then ground through the right palm and bring all your weight onto the right side. Start with your left hand on your hip so you can feel that your hips are stacked. Keep the shoulders broad, the chest open. Lift your hips up as you push into your hand. Feel your whole right side strengthening and lengthening.

Feel a slight internal rotation of your thigh bones and engage the leg and hip muscles. Keep the right shoulder plugged onto your back by depressing your shoulder blade and feel the latissimus and serrates engage. Slowly lift the left arm directly up to the sky and look up to your thumbs. Be careful not to lean back. Keep the upper hip bone right on top of the lower. Stay in the posture for 5 breaths or more then stay buoyant as you transition through plank and continue on to your left side.

From this pose there are many modifications, variations, advanced poses and fun but tricky transitions that come from mastering this pose. Make it your goal this summer to nail this one! Because you are strong and you can! Then see where it takes you next.


 

Nianna BrayNianna Rose Bray is an international yoga teacher. This is her 6th summer teaching in the Hamptons and loves being with the KamaDeva community. She is avail for private bespoke session. For more info visit her at NiannaBray.com

KamaDeva Yoga, 15 Lumber Lane, 2nd Fl, East Hampton, NY 11937 Tel: 917.301.6919 Monthly Inspiration Archives