I am a Big Fan of Side Plank, otherwise know as Vasisthasasana, to those of us who are Sanskrit Snobs (or recovering ones). It’s named for the sage Vasistha, who is credited with being a fan of advaita (a is a negative prefix, and dvaita means dual or two). The principle of non dualism is a whole book, or maybe a library of them, but I will say I am a fan: basically, as I understand it, it says that we are not separate or distinct from what we consider to be divine or mysterious: we are all made of the same stuff.
If you think about the fact that matter can’t be destroyed, just transmuted, then non dualism makes perfect, logical sense. We all breathe the same air, why would some of us be more equal than others, right?
OK, so back to Side Plank, that pose I so love. It’s possibly the best core exercise I know, better even than plank pose.
It’s an isometric exercise: it teaches your muscles to hold you stable in one position, as opposed to dynamic exercises which make you strong in a certain range of motion. Isometric exercises play a fairly large role in some types of yoga, and for good reason: they can be used for rehabilitation as well as general strengthening without placing stress on the joints.
Side Plank is a full-body workout (yes, workout) but the main muscles being challenged are:
- Primary: transverse abdominus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles (abductors which bring the legs together), the adductor muscles of the hip (take the legs apart), and the external and internal obliques.
- Secondary: gluteus maximus (glutes), quadriceps (quads), and hamstrings. So if you learn to use your legs well, your upper body & core don’t have to work quite so hard.
What are your thoughts on Side Plank? Love it? Hate it? Never quite understood the point? Let me know!
Quick edit to illustrate Rachel’s suggestion in the comments below, side plank with one knee down. You would SIGNIFICANTLY decrease the back-bending aspect of this pose if you had lumbar disc issues.