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!
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