Friday, August 5, 2011

Do Your Best

I've been doing some more reading about some common yoga poses and came across an interesting story about Side Plank Pose. But before I get to that, I want to mention that when I work with students individually or with students in a group yoga class, I'm not too concerned if the poses they are performing are absolutely perfect. I just invite my students to do their very best. I offer cues for better alignment and breath flow so that the student feels comfortable in their yoga postures.

Recently, I have been working with several students who are new to the yoga practice. One of their main concerns is if they are doing it "right" so they don't look "stupid." I encourage them to not worry too much about "doing it right." The yoga postures are new to them, so it may be challenging at first. I provide plenty of visual and audio cues to help them through the process. The idea is for them to learn the basic concepts to get a general feeling of some of the poses and to experience the yoga breath. Modifications are also demonstrated to help guide them into poses. If they continue to practice yoga, they will see a natural improvement. Again, all I ask is that they do their best. Put in the effort and the time, and they will experience the wonderful benefits of yoga.

I ask only the same thing of you here with this blog - just do your very best. Set an intention, try a pose, and experience a success.

The pose I was reading about was Side Plank Pose. In Sanskrit, the language of yoga, it is Vasisthasana (vah-sish-TAHS-anna). Vasistha literally means "most excellent, best, or richest. I thought it would be the perfect pose to write about if you're new to the yoga practice. Yoga can be challenging. It takes energy, strength, effort, and time. But when done with intention and you do your very best, you will have a successful yoga practice.

Even if you're a seasoned practitioner and you're dealing with things in your life right now where you don't feel quite as adequate or confident in yourself as you'd like, consider practicing Vasisthasana. Perhaps you're working on project at work and you're having trouble getting motivated or you're stuck. Or maybe you made a mistake while answering a question at school. Or maybe you didn't "feel like your normal self" around your family or friends. All of these scenarios can make you feel a little down about yourself. Remember, though, that we ALL make mistakes, get stuck, or say things we do not intend. Overall, we are still trying to do our very best on this life journey. Remind yourself of that as you practice Side Plank Pose.

Side Plank Pose
Start in Plank Pose. It is basically the top of a push-up. You may also place your knees on the floor as a modification if you feel you do not have the upper body strength for this pose. Plank is a very dynamic posture and can add great upper body and core strength. Be sure to feel an energetic movement forward through the crown of your head. At the same time, feel an energetic movement through the heels of your feel. It should feel like you are extending in opposite directions. Further, be sure to engage your core by drawing your navel up toward your spine on an exhale. Maintain this bodily sensation as you move into Side Plank.

Keep your right hand on the yoga mat as you open your body sideways. Your left leg will be stacked on top of the right and your left hand will be reaching up to the ceiling. (Modify the pose by placing your right knee on the floor directly under your hip to help support this posture.) In this posture, feel free to stack your feet (the inner edges of your feet will touch), or stagger your feet so one is in front of the other for greater stability.

So that there isn't too much pressure in your wrist and shoulder, gently push your pelvis forward on an exhale and lift your left hip up toward the ceiling. You will create a bit of a bend in the body that will send energy and strength down the legs and core body so that the arm does not take the load of this pose. If you are able, left your left leg up so it is parallel with the floor. Keep extending that leg and foot toward the wall to maintain energy in the leg. Also, feel the right inner thigh lift up toward the left inner thigh. This, too, provides great stability for the pose. In this "star" shape, you are now in Vasisthasa - the most excellent and best pose! Hold for 5 slow breaths, return to plank, then proceed to the other side.

While in Side Plank Pose, you will feel the entire body shine; it is fully engage from head to toe. The energy you experience while performing this posture can help you in everyday life situations. When you're down, confused, lacking self confidence, or you don't feel motivated, re-energize your body, mind and spirit with this excellent posture.


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