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!