Master Side Plank
Just like any yoga posture, there is a lot going on in Full Side Plank. The full version of Vasisthasana requires core strength, good shoulder alignment and plenty of leg flexibility. But, there is one key thing that will help you master the practice: plant the bottom foot.
As you can see in the photo below my bottom foot is flat on the ground, as if I’m standing on it. This not only creates stability, but also lifts your hips, which makes the pose feel significantly lighter.
If your ankle doesn’t have this kind of mobility, practice with your foot against floor molding with the pinky toe edge of your foot on the ground and the ball of your foot pressed into the wall. Then lift your hips way up!
Once you learn to get your hips up and feel more stable in Side Plank, then you’ll be able to take the top leg up into the full pose or some other fun variation, like floating it, or tree pose.
To ease wrist pain and make your bottom arm less strained, you have to move your hand forward. Notice in the photo (below) my hand is not directly under my shoulder, but forward under my head. This decreases the angle on your wrist, which causes less pain. It also widens the base of your pose and makes your foundation more stable.
To find this alignment, start your set-up on all fours, then move your hands one handprint forward from directly under your shoulders. An additional note: Keep the inner edge of your hand down, especially where your index finger meets your palm and press into the floor with your fingertips. This creates a stable base, and tones the muscles around your wrist to give it more support.
Your Bottom Shoulder
Aligning the weight bearing arm in Vasisthasana is important, not only to your shoulder health, but also to the stability of your pose. The most common misalignment I see is the bottom shoulder popping forward. This makes it weaker and more prone to injury.
Press your shoulder back firmly, so that you feel the muscles of your upper back working. When you’re in the pose, look down at your bottom arm. Rotate the crease of your elbow forward. This is external rotation, and you need to carry the movement all the way up to your shoulder joint.
The Foot on the Ground
Your bottom foot is one of the keys to the pose. If your ankle is floppy and collapses towards the ground you’ll not be able to gather much power in your legs. Instead, lift your hips really high and press the sole of your foot down. You should be nearly standing on the sole of your foot with as much of the inner edge of it down as possible. Trust me, it works!
Inspiration - detachment
The Law of Detachment: In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.
I will put the Law of Detachment into effect by making a commitment to take the following steps:
Daily InspirationWhen all your desires are distilled; You will cast just two votes: To love more, And be happy-- Hafiz
It’s Spring and according to Ayurveda winter is dominated by the qualities of Kapha, whose characteristics are cold, heavy, stable, dense, and viscous; this is why we find ourselves moving slower, craving heavier foods, and longing for more sleep. Just as nature is confused as to which season she belongs to, it’s common to experience an internal clash during this time as we begin to feel “spring fever” yet we’re still stuck in the energies of winter. As Yogis we seek to move with whatever sensations, emotions, or energies arise for us; trusting the wisdom of intuition and moving in harmony with her rather than resisting that which we don’t like; resistance not only creates suffering but it is a subtle assault on ourselves. Dr. Robert Svoboda, preeminent ayurvedic scholar in the west says “You retain your health only so long as you are willing to forgive your stresses, shrug off adversity and adapt to new situations. Resistance to change always impedes the workings of your immunity”.
It is wise to move with gentleness during this time of year. Allow yourself to move slowly; spend time observing nature’s spring. Remember that all re-birth comes with great struggle and effort. The practice of compassion and ahimsa towards self helps to ease the transition.
Allow yourself the pleasure of sleeping more, or engaging in quiet activities, this helps pacify aggravating qualities as we ‘die’ to this season and prepare ourselves for our new awakening.
So, the past few months has brought much change for both of us. Warren left for Bhutan in October 2010, and I made my way to Bhutan in March. If you are like me, I didn't know much about this magical kingdom until I arrived. Therefore, I will give you all a bit of history before I give you my own thoughts about this sacred land. Drukyul is the name by which the Bhutanese refer to their country. Located in the eastern Himalayan zone, it covers an area about the size of Switzerland. This landlocked kingdom is bounded to the north and northwest by the Tibetan regions of China and to the south by the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. The spectacular mountainous terrain of Bhutan is easily one of the most rugged in the world, rising in altitude to permanently snow capped mountain peaks. This country of 600,000 people can be divided into three ecological zones. The northern zone, bordering Tibet, where the peaks rise above 7,000 meters, is the most sparsely populated part of the country. This alpine regions is inhabited by Brokpas, who graze their sheep, cattle and yak. The Drukpas, who are of Mongoloid origin, live in the western part of the central zone. They are followers of the Drukpakagyu school of Buddhism from which the name of the country, Drukyul or land of the Drukpas is derived. Drukyul is also taken to mean land of the dragons.
Bhutan opened to tourism in 1974, although it is restricted. The lack of infrastructure and tourist facilties as well as Bhutan's effort to preserve her natural and cultural heritage are the main reasons for the restrictions. Individual travelers can not visit the country unless officially invited by the government. And, once invited, it incurs a hefty fee of $250 dollars a day.
With that being said, we feel blessed and lucky to have this amazing opportunity to be here. It has been an exciting adventure. We are both getting ready to lead yoga retreats for the next 3 weeks, which will take us to different parts of Bhutan. New postings to follow soon.
Join me as I surf the spiritual heights and bodily delights of the yoga lifestyle.