full side plank and modifications

FULL SIDE PLANK WITH MODIFICATIONS

STEP-BY-STEP VASHISTHASANA BREAKDOWN

FULL SIDE PLANK

FULL SIDE PLANK AND MODIFICATIONS: VASHISTHASANA

USING THE WALL AS A PROP

Full Side Plank (Vashisthasana) has many modification options and variations to help make it more accessible or more challenging. I love teaching this posture with a foot on the wall to increase stability and provide a frame of reference for shifting the weight out of the hand and into the foot. 

Some people avoid props, thinking of them as a “crutch.” For sure, they can be used as a way to avoid challenges if that is your intention, but they can also be used to increase body awareness and help you develop technique. Props are neither good nor bad; it’s just a matter of how and why you are using them. Is it that you want to avoid challenge or that you want to face challenge intelligently and appropriately?

In the video tutorial below, I show how to modify side plank by placing your top foot on the wall. This reduces the required balance and will allow you to focus on the foundations of the posture, like the strength of your hand and wrist. Press your thumb and pinky fingers into the ground. Then focus on your bottom foot, pressing the instep of your foot into the wall. Eventually, you will be able to place the whole standing foot on the ground, which will give you strength and the power to lift the hips up. Lastly, keep your shoulder externally rotating, as indicated in the video.

Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

VITALITY: RIGOR & RELEASE

Get back to feeling energized and alive — 12 all-levels vinyasa & meditation classes to increase your energy, focus, and mental clarity

 

  • GET BACK TO FEELING ENERGIZED
  • ALL-LEVELS VINYASA CLASSES
  • HIPS, TWISTS, HEART, SHOULDERS, NECK, AND CORE
  • GUIDED MEDITATIONS TO DE-STRESS, INCREASE FOCUS, AND GAIN MENTAL CLARITY

Full Side Plank & Modifications • Vashisthasana at the Wall

This Side Plank tutorial footage is taken from the July 2021 Immersion, titled BALANCE

Full Side Plank Setup

What I don’t discuss in this particular clip is how the setup of this posture is exactly like Wild Thing. This means your pelvis is more open toward the sky, while in standard Side Plank, your feet are stacked. The spine is in a backbend as well, unlike the standard variation, where the spine is neutral.

There are other alignments you could explore, but these will tend to give you the greatest access to the full Side Plank variation where you grab the top foot and extend the leg. If you want to practice the full class, be sure to check out Class #9 of the July 2021 Immersion, called Balance

 

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • Business, branding, marketing, and social media skills

Three Full Side Plank Modifications and Variations

  1. Foot on the Wall: Once you rise up into Wild Thing, place the back foot on the wall and push your weight toward the wall, even if it means both knees are bent. This is not only okay but an indication that you are doing it properly.
  2. Tree Pose: The next step is infinitely more challenging because it requires greater balance and flexibility. Take the foot off the wall, similar to Tree Pose but without placing the foot on your inner thigh (though that is also another variation). I suggest pushing your knee into your hand to get your hip flexors active. Hip flexor strength becomes key when you attempt to straighten the leg. Often the tension of the hamstrings is too much and people have to let go of the foot. If your hip flexors are strong and used to engaging in this position, then they can help out by keeping the top leg closer to your upper body, lessening the chances that you’ll have to let go of the foot when extending the leg up to the sky.
  3. Full Side Plank or “Extended Vashisthasana”: Pull your knee in as tight as possible in order to grab your foot. Either stay as a modification or begin to kick the foot to the sky, straightening the top leg. Pro tip: It’s helpful to keep the bottom, weight-bearing leg bent while extending the top leg upward. 
Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

VITALITY: RIGOR & RELEASE

Get back to feeling energized and alive with 12 all-levels vinyasa & meditation classes to increase your energy, focus, and mental clarity.

 

  • GET BACK TO FEELING ENERGIZED
  • ALL-LEVELS VINYASA CLASSES
  • HIPS, TWISTS, HEART, SHOULDERS, NECK, AND CORE
  • GUIDED MEDITATIONS TO DE-STRESS, INCREASE FOCUS, AND GAIN MENTAL CLARITY

Can’t Straighten Your Legs?

This is normal and really shouldn’t be your focus. This is an incredibly physically demanding posture that requires extreme flexibility. Even with slightly bent knees, the posture is still visually stunning and, I would argue, even more biomechanically sound because bent knees typically trigger more muscle engagement.

 

 

Edited by 300-hour Chromatic yoga teacher, Donna Morin.

 

TOP RELEVANT RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Balance Immersion: 12 Classes Focused on Balance (video above is taken from this immersion) 

2. Arm Balance Immersion: 12 Classes – 12 Arm Balances

MORE WAYS TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE

  1. Live Immersions: 3 classes per week
  2. 200 Hour Training: Get certified
  3. 300 Hour Online Training: Get 500hr certified
Arm Balances

ARM BALANCES

Learn 12+ arm balances while expanding your knowledge of the body and increasing your body awareness. All classes are 75 minutes and ALL-levels appropriate 

  • Crow Pose, Side Crow, and variations
  • Flying Pigeon, Koundinyasana 1 & 2
  • Titibhasana, Bhujapidasana
  • Handstand, Forearm Stand, and many more!

 

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $128.00

Continue Learning

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom in Revolved Low Lunge 5-Part Twist TechniqueanjaneyasanaREVOLVED LOW LUNGE TECHNIQUE You’re going to multiply the benefits of twisting postures with this 5-part twist technique. There are already benefits you may knowingly and/or unknowingly receive...

read more
King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations Full Body Awareness for Your ShouldersmobilityKING PIGEON If you’ve practiced with Matt before, you’ll be aware of the domino effect or the ripple effect of how a yoga posture unfolds. Matt brilliantly breaks down every pose with care and...

read more
Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose Scapular Retraction For Back StrengthPURVOTTANASANAREVERSE PLANK POSE Asymmetry is a common issue when it comes to our asana practice. Opportunities to work on strengthening muscles in the back body are much more infrequent than opportunities to...

read more
Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose on Blocks Take Your Shoulder Stability to New HeightsSTABILITYCROW POSE  It’s not unusual to have a healthy amount of fear and hesitation when it comes to finding balance in crow pose: Will I fall? Am I strong enough? Will I hurt myself? One of the most...

read more
Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose Shoulder Fix at the Wallupward rotationSIDE ANGLE POSE Stop for a moment and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice. There are plenty of opportunities, aren't there? Side Angle Pose is a perfect example.  ...

read more
Open Splits

Open Splits

Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often. It does require a considerable...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Key To Arm Balances

The Key to arm Balances

Learn the secret to balancing on your hands

 

The Secret is Simple

Finding ease in arm balances can seem like a mystery and it can be frustrating to figure them out while struggling to breathe in positions that feel constricting. The secret to arm balances is simple, but it is not always easy to put into action. Picture a balance scale, the old-fashioned kind. When both sides are even, the scale is “balanced.” There is no difference between a balance scale and your body, but it’s visually harder to understand. The center of the scale is where your hand meets your wrists.

Let’s think about crow pose for a moment. You will see in the picture to the right (or below if you’re on mobile or a tablet) a red line to show you where the shaft of a balance scale would be. I call the hips and legs the “back side” of the pose, and the heart and head the “front side.” In order for the back and front side to be equal we must lean forward quite a bit. This presents a bit of fear for many yogis, and for a good reason! You could easily lean too far, too fast. This is why it’s important to build strength in your fingers and wrists. The primary muscles that stop the body from leaning too far are the flexors of the wrists and fingers. I call these muscles “The Breaks,” and much like driving any vehicle, you will not feel safe without them! For this reason alone it’s super important to strengthen the breaks so that you build trust in yourself. As your trust builds, you will be willing to lean forward more and more into the strength of your wrists.  In my Handstand Training video, I provide some of my top exercises for “the breaks.”

When most people first try to lean forward they actually tend to sink, softening the elbow joints and melting the shoulder blades toward each other. This will make the posture heavy and will actually make it harder to balance. To be sure you aren’t doing this, film yourself or better yet find a teacher or friend to support you with visual coaching.

yoga arm balance with goats
200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
online classes for anatomy of arm balances

ANATOMY OF ARM BALANCES

MAY 2022 Immersion

  • Anatomy of 12+ arm balances
  • Foundational and advanced arm balance techniques
  • Visualize your movements internally
  • Improve balance and proprioception
  • Sensation-based practices
  • Learn empowering modifications
  • Access appropriate variations for your level of practice
  • Active, passive, and isomentric Stretching
  • Improve wrist, core, and shoulder strength
  • ALL LEVELS APPROPRIATE

$168.00

MORE INFORMATION

 

yoga pose all 4's wrist strengthener

Step 1 - All Fours with a Block

First work with a block behind the forearms on all fours. To be clear this is a deep extension of the wrist, so be mindful. If you feel that your muscles are straining, back the block up an inch. The idea here is to grip the ground with your fingers which will activate the flexor muscles. Because the hand is in extension, the flexor muscles are elongated significantly, so gripping the ground could prove to be challenging.

chaturanga with block for wrist strength

Step 2: Chaturanga with a block

The next step is to work on lowering from plank to chaturanga with the block directly behind the forearm. I recommend only going down a few inches and trying to hold. You will notice that in my chaturanga and crow pose my elbows are only slightly bent. This will make it easier to stay lifted and light. The same is true for the fingers; keep gripping the ground! To Strengthen your wrist, I highly recommend Handstand Training

crow pose wrist strength and balance

Step 3: Crow Pose

Crow pose is significantly more challenging, so if this is new for you be sure to work with a teacher first (and a landing cushion would be an intelligent choice if you ask me). Apply the same action but go slower. Grip the ground and apply the breaks, then lean into that resistance. If you are more proficient in arm balances, you can try this in a posture like Ekapada Koundenyasana 2  or flying pigeon.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED & ADVANCE YOUR TEACHING SKILLSETS

  • Learn Anatomy, Bio-Mechanics, and Masterful Postural Techniques
  • Advance Your Teaching Skillsets: Sequencing, Verbal Cuing, Theming
  • Deliver Heart Felt Practices with Philosophy, Meditation, & Pranayama
  • Apply Business Structure's, Marketing, Branding, Social Media
  • Build Confidence Working with Injuries, and More!

Avoiding Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is common when people first start their yoga practice or arm balance practice. That doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, but it probably means the muscles that surround the joint are not strong and probably not balanced. The wrists are not a muscle you can simply work really hard a few times and see positive results. More likely you will strain the muscles if you go that route. Instead spend small amounts of time practicing these exercises but do them often. This is how I train my own wrists and I have had much success with feeling good over the course of 12 plus years of practicing handstands and arm balances.

Thank you for reading and watching! if you have questions, comments or requests please share them here!

-Matt

Handstand Strength Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy, and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible so you can finally build the proper strength and awareness it takes to hold a handstand.

Continue Learning

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom in Revolved Low Lunge 5-Part Twist TechniqueanjaneyasanaREVOLVED LOW LUNGE TECHNIQUE You’re going to multiply the benefits of twisting postures with this 5-part twist technique. There are already benefits you may knowingly and/or unknowingly receive...

read more
King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations

King Pigeon Variations Full Body Awareness for Your ShouldersmobilityKING PIGEON If you’ve practiced with Matt before, you’ll be aware of the domino effect or the ripple effect of how a yoga posture unfolds. Matt brilliantly breaks down every pose with care and...

read more
Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose Scapular Retraction For Back StrengthPURVOTTANASANAREVERSE PLANK POSE Asymmetry is a common issue when it comes to our asana practice. Opportunities to work on strengthening muscles in the back body are much more infrequent than opportunities to...

read more
Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose On Blocks

Crow Pose on Blocks Take Your Shoulder Stability to New HeightsSTABILITYCROW POSE  It’s not unusual to have a healthy amount of fear and hesitation when it comes to finding balance in crow pose: Will I fall? Am I strong enough? Will I hurt myself? One of the most...

read more
Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose

Side Angle Pose Shoulder Fix at the Wallupward rotationSIDE ANGLE POSE Stop for a moment and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice. There are plenty of opportunities, aren't there? Side Angle Pose is a perfect example.  ...

read more
Open Splits

Open Splits

Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS Open splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often. It does require a considerable...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get in Contact

9 + 1 =

BLACK FRIDAY: 30% OFF ALL ONLINE IMMERSIONS!
10
days
10
hours
10
minutes
10
seconds
BLACK FRIDAY: 30% OFF ALL ONLINE IMMERSIONS!
10
days
10
hours
10
minutes
10
seconds
Congratulations, your 30% discount code has been applied and will be reflected at the very bottom at checkout page
Overlay Image
BLACK FRIDAY SALE! Congratulations, your 30% discount code has been applied and will be reflected at the very bottom of the checkout page

Pin It on Pinterest