In my last post I talked about the importance of lateral strength to keep our back, hips and shoulders happy. Today, I will share four of my favorite yoga moves that I often teach in my classes to create a balance between strength and mobility.
Improve Your Lateral Strength With Tadasana on a Block and Vasisthasana
Stand on the floor or on a yoga mat in tadasana with your feet hip with apart and a block between your feet. Take a few deep breaths and create a steady foundation. Then place your left foot on the block and your right foot in the air on an invisible block. Use your left gluteus medius and minimus to keep your pelvis leveled. Hold for 8-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side. For a greater challenge move the leg that’s in the air in various directions without losing your balance or leaning into the standing hip.
For a full side body challenge try Vasisthasana (side plank) on your hand/forearm and the outside of your foot/knee. Lie on your side and place your hand or your elbow under your shoulder. Then put your torso, hips, knees and maybe feet on an imaginary straight line from your hand/elbow. Begin by externally rotating your arm and depressing your scapula in order to activate your serratus anterior to help stabilize your shoulder joint. Lift your hips off the floor and try to create a tadasana like shape, from your feet or your knees. Flex your shoulder and place top arm along your ear. Hold for 5-8 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Increase Lateral Mobility With Parigasana and Figure 4 Twist
Stand on your knees and abduct your left leg away from your right knee. Place your left fingertips lightly on the extended leg. Inhale and flex your right shoulder/arm along your ear. Exhale and laterally flex your spine to the left. Make sure that your pelvis is in a neutral position. Hold for 8-10 breaths and lengthen your right side of your body, from your knee to your fingertips.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip with apart. Externally rotate your right hip and place your ankle above your left knee. Dorsiflex your right foot and then lower both legs to the left into a twisted figure 4. Hold this position for 90 seconds and try to relax your right side, from your rib cage to your pelvis. Repeat on the other side.
If you include these lateral exercises in your weekly yoga or exercise regime, you’ll soon notice that balancing on one leg and poses that require lateral strength and stability will feel much better and be a lot more fun. Enjoy!
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We often think of having 6 pack abs when considering core strength, but lateral strength through our entire core is essential! For balance and stability, as well as posture and support in all our daily movements. Great ideas for gaining lateral strength and length.
In my recent YTU training I discovered that one of my body blind spots are my obliques and balance. Reflecting back on my background of weightlifting I noted that all the exercises I used to target obliques were twisting motions like russian twists and bicycle crunches. I did virtually nothing to train obliques unilaterally. I plan on incorporating the tadasana on a block and more side planks into my workouts now and looking forward to feeling the results. Thanks for the tips!
OH WOW the last one !!!
I’m adding it to my routine, tak skal du have !
thank you for weaving the side plank with gate pose to build more lateral strength and flexibility.
I love the feeling of lateral stretches, but I usually stick with standing Ardha Chandrasana – thanks for the other poses you suggest, and for including information on the muscles involved!
Just knowing that gaining lateral strength will improve your one leg balance poses is enough to make me want to practice these exercises. Foot, Pelvic to spine instability is a big problem with so many people, especially those who sit a lot.
Thanks for the poses.
I will be adding the block balancing to my pelvic list practice.
En la vida diaria tener sana y contentos los tensores de la fascia lata (musculos laterales de la pierna) es indispensable para caminar seguros y si los fortaleces con ejercicios, podrás estar más seguro para actividades cómo el patinaje en hielo, el surf, ballet, yoga, bailar salsa, pilates y senderismo.
Excelente esta secuencia para ir progresando y fortaleciendo de manera efectiva y segura a la vez. Qué bien se siente poder sostener nuestro propio cuerpo, nos empodera , sin duda. Gracias!
I will try offering these to my students who struggle with balance .
I enjoyed your previous post and the continuation of this one with exercises to do. Since I discovered an imbalance in the QL while doing Leg Stretch #3 at the Wall I have been focusing on increasing my awareness of the QL and the surrounding areas. For years off and on I have gotten a slight ache in my left hip. The ache itself is nowhere near the QL so I’ve been working on this for a while but not quite getting it. The discomfort would go away when I would work on pelvic stability and I can see now how that helped with strengthening the weaker side. It didn’t however release the chronic tension in the left side. Since finding at least one of the muscles that has been compensating for me, I’ve been working on lateral flexion and extension, doing the hip hikes and using the balls to roll out the QL. I will add the side plank however, and really appreciate the addition of another piece of the puzzle that is my understanding of my body.
I never thought of trying to stand on one block in Tadasana. I cannot wait to work on this myself and then transfer it into my teaching. I agree that is has to help with balancing standing postures for sure! Thanks
Similar to your Tadasana on a block, I’ve taught Bridge with one foot on the block and the other on an imaginary block, then leg is straight and then the hip is flexed to bring the foot skyward. The goal is to keep the ASIS on the side without the block on the same plane as the side with the foot on the block, all the while pressing the foot into the block to fire up the glutes and hamstrings on that side. I’m going to try your version of Tadasana on the block for my next class!
Good article I like the Way it is approach thanks !
very well explained and easy to understand thank you
Good exercice! Thank you!
As a student of my body these exercises will help me with my lateral strengthening and stabilizing .
These are great pose that I always incorporate in my class and that they are actually very effective. This is great for balancing and prevents fall.
Love the Tadasana on a block. I am starting a series with seniors on balance and i will be including this (near the wall in case of wobbles!)
Great descriptions of lateral poses to create a strong core. Gate pose is great for moving out of the sagital plane and varying movement to give opportunity to lay down new patterns of strength and mobility.
I’ve always felt that the side body gets neglected in yoga. So much emphasis on the front and back. I love these exercises to bring awareness to the side body, especially tadasana on a block!
this was a helpful article. simple yet effective poses. i believe these will help open my QL that is always tight.
thanks Annelie, great practical exercises to focus on lateral movement and strength.
After reading part 1 I had to jump over to this blog as well. I’m especially interested in the tadasana block variation, so simple, yet so effective. Thank you!
Reading part 1 and now part 2, I’m excited to incorporate these movements not only into my own weekly routine but with my clients!! They are simple lateral body awakeners that can be done anywhere. As a strength coach, these are new to me (except side plank) and a majority of my clients either sit at a desk all day or have lumbar or knee pain. These will definitely be added to see how it impacts their strength and stability! Thank you!
I find myself actually inbalanced and I m looking forward to add the last exercice to my daily routine and bring back the 3 first one also… that I forget sometime 🙂 We offten forget the lateral and it s so important. Thanks! I’ll read your first article on the subject 🙂
Thank you for the variations of yoga poses.
Really like the figure 4 Twist
We are almost always moving in a vertical direction so it is one of my most favorite things to teach and do: lateral movement. These exercises really help in lengthening the muscles along the side body helping to build a healthy posture and strong foundation – thank you for sharing!
The adasana movement on a Bloc is actually very effective. It also helps a lot in balance and helps strengthen the leg on the block.
This is the perfect follow up to your previous post. These exercises are a great way to work on the lateral tissues of the body.
These are great exercises, Annelie. They’ll be especially useful for my runners. We already do a version of Tadasana on a block and your version is a great way to help mix things up. Thank you!
I see how both strengthening and lengthening the lateral side body can improve ones balance. Great idea to balance on a block to improve tadasana.
Great idea to stand on the block to improve lateral stability with glute med and min. I see how each of these specifically target the lateral side body and show how you can both lengthen and strengthen the tissue including the obliques, ql and front hip flexors.
Thank you Annelie, Great MOD’s and content.
Had to read this after the blind spot and lateral movement article by annelie so helpful to have also practice application to accommodate the in-depth article.
What a great list of exercises! Side plank is the only one I’m familiar with doing, so I’m excited to add the other ones into my repertoire. Looks like you get a great lateral lengthening with a few of these. Thank you!
The Tadasana on a Block is very simple but really effective, wow! I’m definitely logging that one away for future use.
thanks – these are great examples of poses to use to move more laterally on the mat and change up the typical forward and back linear asanas
The side body is such an amazing place to feel s stretch but equally important is the strength of these same parts. Thanks for the pose offerings, cant wait to try and share!
Thank you for the reminder about the importance of lateral strength and stability with accessible poses, too! People are often surprised on the challenge of “just” balancing on one leg. I also LOVED reading your cues with the “direction of movements” and experiencing the concise prompting!
Thanks for this post! I don’t pay enough attention to lateral strength…I really need to incorporate it more to my daily practice!
Thanks! I’m always looking for new, safe ways to bring lateral movement into my yoga class!
Simple but effective suggestions. This version of Vasisthasana is much more challenging than the hand-on-the-floor version. The shaking begins much sooner! Great pictures too.
Thank you for the lateral strengthening and stretching movements. We don’t spend as much time working in this plane so it is a great sequence to follow.
When I think about lateral strength and mobility it would have never occurred to me to use a block in tadasana. Thank you so much for the tip. Can’t wait to see my students faces for this one.
Great focused sequence to work on a strong and long core.
Thanks for sharing these moves. I look forward to seeing the difference in my balances!
Awesome article! I learned some new moves. Will definitely integrate that into my practice and teachings. Never thought to add a block for tadasana.
Annelie, thank you for this very helpful LS series! I liked reading your very specific cues and also seeing the twisted figure 4 pose, which I wouldn’t have thought about in this context.
I loved the combination of these poses a lot. As a person who has minor scoliosis always into lateral mobility and strength. Especially Tadasana on block and Parigasana are good check points for two different sides. Thank you:)
Great article! Me and my students can benefit big time from lateral strength. So much focus of Yoga has gone to the external rotation and sagittal plane, it almost feels like a old record that keeps playing the same old song… I’m so glad to have the perspective of YTU as a refreshment and get finally the focus into the lateral muscles. I love the Tadasana with block on one leg and all the poses you put together. Thanks!
I love tadasana on a block. Thanks for sharing this series.
Great sequence to strengthen and lengthen those lateral areas. Thanks for taking the time, in previous article and this one, to shed light on how this sequence of poses address similar areas of the body.
I’m always looking for additional lateral movements and ideas. Love the block tadasana. My “older” crowd will enjoy that one. Thank you.
This article is super helpful and each of the examples is something almost anyone can do to improve lateral strength and mobility. I especially enjoyed standing on a block in tadasana and holding the leg for 8-10 breaths. I continue to have some challenges with balancing poses so I will begin to implement these strategies and see how much strength I gain 🙂
Thanks so much for this series! I love including lateral moves in class since it seems like a direction our bodies don’t usually go into in our “normal” daily activities. Gate pose is one of my favorites, and I often do Figure 4 twist as well, although I hadn’t been viewing it as a lateral move (until now). Thank you again!