By Yoga Journal
Warm up and engage your core and hips safely for Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana). Try these asanas from Chelsea Jackson to prep for, and achieve, a solid Side Plank.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Begin to warm up the body by coming into Downward-Facing Dog. With your feet about hip-distance apart, start warming up your hamstrings by pressing one heel down and shifting the weight to that side, then moving in the same way on the other side. Press into all four corners of both palms while lifting your hips and pressing your heels down toward the ground. Begin to stabilize the pose and elongate the sides of your body by pressing the heart toward the back of the mat. Hold for 8-10 breaths. Downward-Facing Dog is a great home base for hip-focused poses, like Side Plank, or Vasisthasana. And Down Dog can be used as a transition pose between postures in this series.
Low Lunge, Variation
From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot forward. Try stacking your right knee above your ankle as you press into all four corners of the right foot. Frame your right foot with both hands, coming onto your fingertips. Press into the big toe of the left foot as you hug both legs in toward your center line and keep your left knee lifted. Inhale to externally rotate your shoulders. Exhale and allow for surrender and to guide your hips deeper into your Low Lunge. During a round of about 8-10 breaths, energetically keep the back knee lifted, the spine long, and the heart soft. To release, return to Down Dog. Then repeat on the other side.
Half Splits (Half Monkey Pose)
From a Low Lunge with your right foot forward, gently place your left knee on the ground. Leading with your hips, slowly shift your body weight toward your back heel as you begin to straighten your right leg (going only as far as is comfortable) and flex your right foot. Bring your hands, fingertips, to the ground or blocks underneath your shoulders. Inhale as you elongate your spine. Exhale as you square your hips by shifting the right hip back and the left hip forward. You can deepen the hamstring stretch by gently bowing forward with an open heart and long spine. After breathing through this posture for at least 5 breaths, release by bending the right knee and placing the sole of the right foot on the floor. Switch sides.
About Chelsea Jackson
Chelsea Jackson, PhD, has a 200-hour hatha yoga training from Kashi Atlanta Urban Yoga Ashram. Jackson is also certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga to children, and earned her PhD from the Division of Educational Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She founded chelsealovesyoga.com, a platform for discussion on yoga, race, and diversity; is a member of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition; and created the Yoga, Literature & Art Camp for teen girls.