Discover Arm Balancing Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

Side Plank Tutorial

10 min - Tutorial


Allison leads a playful exploration of Side Plank using props to create different relationships to gravity and assist in weight bearing.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Block (2)

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everyone. Welcome. This is a tutorial on Vasisthasana. And so in this season, we'll be making friends with Vasisthasana or side plank. And what's really important is to understand where we are right now, because you might be thinking to yourself, there is no way that I am friends with side plank. And I understand because we're parallel with the floor. And so that means that all of our body weight is fighting against gravity. And that can be a lot, especially if we're not used to this. And a lot of times we create overcompensations to be able to kind of make the shape work in our body. And so what I love doing, and I hope you love this too, is to play with the Vasisthasana in different relationships to gravity. So we're going to use the wall, we'll use a chair, it doesn't have to be a backless, it can be any chair or table, ottoman, whatever you've got, and then two blocks. So I want to show you this first variation on the wall, you'll place your hand just a little bit above your shoulder. And so that way you can push into the wall, and then lean a little bit into the wall, and you push away. And then you lean, think of it almost as if you were doing a side shrug, right? So we might shrug our shoulders up and down like this. But now it's kind of the side shrugs, you're shrugging in, and then pushing away, shrug in, and push away. So take your left hand, place it slightly above your shoulder, walk a little bit away from the wall, so you are leaning into the wall. And then feel your body weight lean into the wall, and then push away. And it might not be a lot. Okay, lean in, and push away. Lean in, and push away. Okay, and let's roll to the other side. So you take your hand, place it slightly above your shoulder. Okay, this time, if you want to add a little bit more, you just walk a little bit further away from the wall. Your feet can be together, lean into the wall, and then shrug away. Lean toward the wall, push away. So can you feel that when you lean, your shoulder blade comes closer to your spine. And when you push away, the shoulder blade moves away from the spine. So these actions of retraction and protraction. Retraction coming closer to the spine when your torso is moving closer to the wall. And then protraction, your shoulder blade is coming away from the spine, or your torso is moving away from your shoulder blade. Okay. And then to come out, you walk a little bit closer to the wall. So if that went well, and you're like, okay, like now I get this sense of how side plank works, right? Because that's really the essence of what we want. Because once we can do it here, then we can start playing. You'll grab your chair. And make sure that your chair is on your mat just so that it doesn't slide. You'll take your hand to the center of the chair and walk your body out. Okay, so similar to the wall. Right? So I have my hands on my chair, center of the chair, and I walk my feet out. Okay. And I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to let myself kind of shrug down. So gravity is totally consuming me right now. And then I say no, no. And I push away. Okay. And then I come down and push away. And one more, lean in, push away. Okay. And then you can bring that top arm up, right? Because why not? Okay. And then to come out, you can place your hand on the chair, roll onto the balls of the feet and step forward. And then you'll switch over to the other side. So you can try it with me. Take your hand to the center of your chair. Okay. Turn away. So you're facing the long edge of your mat. Walk your feet out. Okay. So your body's nice and long. And then again, lean in, push away, lean in, push away. Can you feel that? It's a little bit harder, right?

Than when you were at the wall. Okay. And then bring the top arm up as you push, push, push away. Okay. And then to come out, take your left hand to the chair and step your feet forward. So if you're like, that was really hard, you're gonna stay here. Okay. If you're like with that, like I couldn't feel any, I couldn't feel any of the shrugging action and go back to the wall and maybe step your feet further away from the wall. If you're like, no, I got a handle on that. Like I've made friends with the chair version of Ashi Sasana, then you're going to come over to the blocks. Okay. So you can see that the angle of your body is coming closer and closer to parallel with your mat. So you take two blocks, stack them one on top of the other. Okay. You can have it either way. I actually prefer the blocks to be this way for my hand, but some might like more of this grip. So you can play with that. Okay. So now my hand, right at the palm of my hands in the center of the blocks, I wrap my fingers around, I walk my right foot back and then you slip my left foot back. And then I do again. Okay. So I might feel, Oh, that's tough. Okay. I lean in, push away, lean in and push away. Okay. And then to come out again, ground the foot step back. This can also be a variation, right? With the knee down and pressing away. Okay. All right. Let's try the other side. So you'll take your right hand to the block, step your left foot back. And then as you're pushing, you slide this right foot back and let the body come down, push away, down, push away, down and push away. Lift the hand up, then to come out, right? You can roll like we did before and place the knees down. So there are different ways to exit. Again, if that went well, okay, you separate your blocks. Okay. And then you come back, hand to the center, reach the foot back, slide your other foot back. All right. So we went from upright. Now we're almost there. Lean down, push away, shrug. So shoulder blade comes in towards the spine. Shoulder blade comes away from the spine. Lift the top arm up. Okay. When you transition, maybe you walk, put the hand down and lower the knees, take your block over to the other side. Step your left foot back, push with the right arm, step your right foot back, right shoulder blade toward the spine and away. Press away. Lift your left arm up. Okay. And then take the hand down, knees down. Okay. So it might only be three inches that we're getting rid of, but they make a difference. Okay. And so hopefully you've been feeling these differences as you've gone from version to version and you stop, right? Where there's no movement or it's very challenging for your body, right? So you work in that pace until you can come down, right? A little bit closer to the floor. So now we're on the floor. Let's start in plank, roll over to the outer edge of your left foot, right? Fingertips get light, turn your chest, reach the arm up and then raise. So this is what usually happens. Okay. And then we push away. We lean down, shoulder blade comes in towards the spine, push away. Okay. Other side roll back through plank and let's roll to the other side. Roll onto the outer edge of the right foot, lift your left arm up. Okay. Shoulder blades come in, shoulder blades apart. It's like a star bursting, right? Sometimes that help helps with the fingertips. Lean in and then and you lift up. Okay. And then take your left hand down, lower your knees down to the floor. And that my friends is making friends with Vasisasana. So I hope this was helpful. I hope you enjoy playing with your props and playing with these different variations.

I would love to know how you're doing with them and which one is your favorite.


2 people like this.
I found the shrugging and pushing away motions to not only be demonstrative of the proper arm/shoulder alignment, but WOW! such a strength builder! Nice 👍😊
1 person likes this.
Jenny S I’m so happy to hear that! I find the simple shrug as part of our regular movement vocabulary, making it easier to understand when we take the arm out to the side and eventually play with the body’s orientation to gravity. Thanks for watching and practicing! 
1 person likes this.
Love this!  Thanks!  Also love your yoga top!  Wondering where you bought it?  I'm 60 years old and I am trying to get stronger in the arms and core for arm balancing.  So this helps a lot!
Stephanie V Hi! I'm so glad you are enjoying these classes!! I believe it is from Beyond Yoga.
1 person likes this.
I loved taking the time to explore the shoulderblade actions and different set-ups! And now feel like now I've got to know my friend Vashistasana a bit better :). 
Only could use the wall and it was a shock to my shoulders. It was a good shock

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