To be completely honest, I'm not a huge fan of Side Plank, or Vasisthasana. But sometimes, the poses you don't really like are the same ones that you need to do the most.
At first I would always try and "cheat" myself in the pose to make it easier. But now, knowing how good it is for me, I've stopped cheating, accepted the challenge, and started making it work instead. Yoga can be a challenge, that’s why they call it a practice! If you’re up for the challenge I suggest you check out the free 30 Day Yoga Challenge. It’ll test you in so many ways and you’ll gain strength and flexibility!
Here are five great benefits of Side Plank, all of which are reasons why I now try to work it into every practice (and why maybe you should too!).
1. Core Strength
This pose works your core to a huge extent. You have to really use your belly muscles to stay upright, so you'll definitely be feeling the core work the day after.
Here's a quick alignment tip: really engage your core to keep your hips from sagging towards the floor. You want to be one long, strong line of energy in this pose.
So if you want a strong core and abs of steel, start with Side Plank.
2. Strengthens Arms and Wrists
Side Plank requires you to balance on one arm, so this is a great pose for strengthening your shoulders, wrists, and arms. Make sure to keep your arm strong. Don't lock your elbow, and don't sink into your shoulder.
Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to having Madonna arms in no time.
3. Strengthens Legs
Side Plank is really a full-body pose. You work pretty much every part, and the legs are no exception.
Engage the legs, especially the supporting one, to help keep you up. You want the core working, but you don't want it doing everything all on its own. Just like with the arms, don't lock the supporting knee, as that will definitely do more harm than good.
Keep everything engaged, and try to feel a bit of lift in the thighs, and get excited about the amazing-looking legs you're going to have!
4. Improves Balance
I think many would agree that Side Plank is without a doubt a not-so-easy balancing pose. However, the fact that it challenges you, and builds strength in your arms and wrists, makes it a great prep pose for other arm balances down the road.
If you're a beginner (or like me, you don't do this pose as often as you should), just looking down at your supporting hand can be balance-challenging enough. But if you want to kick things up a notch, send your gaze up to the hand that is reaching towards the sky.
And if you're an advanced practitioner, you could also try the full pose a la B.K.S. Iyengar with the top leg perpendicular to the ground. Look at you, you master balancer!
5. Improves Concentration
The scenario: you're staring down at your hand, supporting arm starting to shake, and you can feel the sweat dripping down your forehead. You're just waiting for the pose to be over. And you're concentrating so hard on staying upright and keeping those hips from sagging.
It might not seem like it, but this is actually a good experience because you're developing your concentration skills! Once you come out of the pose, you'll feel like you can conquer anything. But get ready for the other side, and keep concentrating!
Do you love Side Plank? What are some benefits you've gotten from the pose? Let us know in the comments below!