I spent the good part of last night trying all sorts of different advanced poses with the idea of sharing one with you. I failed at all of them. And wouldn’t it have been a lie anyway? Capturing that split second when I managed Dragonfly Pose and then writing about it as if it’s something I can do?
What I should be spending my time working on is my core strength – and Side Plank is great for that. For the longest time, I was trying to do this posture with my hand under my shoulder because I have this thing where I mistake having things line up with proper alignment. Positioning my hand slightly in front of my shoulder helped a lot. As did just listening to my body and being OK with the fact that sometimes I have to keep my feet together, sometimes I can’t look up at my extended hand and that is all fine.
To get into the posture, start out laying flat on the floor. Turn onto your right side with your legs extended and your feet and hips resting on the ground and stacked on top of each other. Place your right elbow directly under your shoulder to prop up your torso, and align your head with your spine. Contract your core and lift your hips and knees off the floor. Hold for 10-30 seconds, maybe one day working up to a minute and return to the starting position. Roll onto the other side and repeat. Eventually, you can work up to side plank with a straight arm and then maybe lift your top leg off your bottom leg. But that will come with time – if you want.
Y7 Studio is a favorite of mine as they combine heat, Vinyasa Yoga, a darkened room and hip hop music. They also incorporate a lot of postures that work on the core that are more than simply asking for rep after rep of crunches (which do nothing but hurt my neck). Many of the flows integrate side plank (and its many variations), we often move from Chartarunga up to plank, down to Chartarunga again – basically a super slow, painful, torturous pushup but with Ludacris playing in the background so you’re fine with it. We also hold forearm planks a lot -with the instructor talking to you in a slow, calm voice as you fervently curse her silently to yourself. Just me? OK…
Anyway, give it a shot – your abs will thank you. And in turn, so will your Crow Pose and any number of other postures.
I have read some great blog posts recently about living your true yogic self and what the at home practice really looks like as opposed to how it is often presented to the world. The photo above is what practicing at home looks like for me – Olaf in the corner, two screaming kids just out of frame. Perfect.