Vasisthasana

{NOTE: originally Posted on April 1, 2010 in the spring- which it almost is now! see it here: http://faern-in-the-works.com/2010/04/01/pose-of-the-month-vasisthasana-pose-dedicated-to-the-sage-vasistha/ }

Writing: Chrisandra Fox

Photography: Faern

Vasisthasana (Pose dedicated to the sage, Vasistha)

The pose dedicated to the sage, Vasistha – this beautiful version of “side plank” is a balance pose that requires coordinating expressions of strength and yielding. The pose strengthens and tones the shoulder girdle, abdomen, low spine, and legs, and can deepen your sense of equanimity, trust, and open-heartedness. Try practicing this pose outside, on the earth and beneath the open sky, and feel how the actions of this pose orchestrate with the currents of energy and intention flowing throughout your body.

Preparation

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your feet hip width apart, and arms alongside your torso. Draw your thighbones back. As you spread broadly across the bases of your toes and root down through your legs, can you feel the rebounding energy rise up through your inner thighs and spine? Release your tail towards your heels, soften your front ribs, and gently tone your navel towards your spine. As your roots grow, draw the breath gently into the uppermost part of your lungs, allowing for a sense of fullness across your chest.

Inhale, sweep your arms out to the sides and up overhead. On an exhalation, roll your spine and pelvis forward to Uttanasana (Intense Forward Stretch). Step or hop both feet back to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog). Press your thighbones back, spiraling them in as you release your heels towards the ground. Broaden the shoulder blades on your back ribs, soften the tops of your shoulders, and release through the sides of your neck.

The work of your hands and feet will strongly influence your balance in Vasisthasana. Set up your foundation by establishing connection to the earth through your hands and feet. On a sticky mat, you may be able to open across the bases of your fingers and release each finger towards the floor with equal effort. If you are practicing on sand, grass, or mulch, try lightly “gripping” at the ground with your finger pads. This will strengthen your hands and wrists, and set you up for a “lift” in the center of your palm that will radiate energy through the channel of the arm to the chest.

Inhale to plank, draw your shoulders above your wrists and press actively through your heels. Repeat the action of releasing your tail toward your heels, as you press your thighbones into your hamstrings and draw the abdomen in.

The Pose

Step your feet together, place your left hand on the ground under your face and roll onto the outer edge of your left foot. Rest your right arm alongside your torso. Reach through the soles of both feet and lengthen your outer thighs towards your outer heels. Feel the inner thighs draw up as you deepen your sacrum in your pelvis and engage through your navel center.

(Variation: You can also cross your right ankle over your left, still working your legs equally. Or, bend your left knee and support your weight on your left shin. Extend your right leg out to the side. )

Inhale, and lift your right arm towards the sky. Anchor both shoulder blades on your back ribs, keep your chest broad as you open to the expansiveness of the sky. Keep your breath steady, turn your gaze up, lengthen and expand.

This may be challenge enough, to find that sweet spot in the space of gravity and levity. Feel the grounding actions of your legs and standing arm towards earth, and the rising, floating, expansive invitation towards sky.

Vasistha was a son of Brahma, a revered sage and seer. He authored hymns of the Rigveda dedicated to deities who represent qualities of nature – fire, wind, the sun, rain -, and was a teacher to many. Intelligent, selfless, and embodying peace, Vasistha attained great spiritual achievement and imparted great wisdom.

As you practice the pose, feel the dedicated effort in your body and within your intentions. As you remember your breath and keep a soft gaze, can you honor your connection to earth and sky – and feel the outer world support your inner “being” in the pose? As the pose evolves in your body, can you rest peacefully in your awareness of your place in Nature, and the many gifts that come from that awareness?

Try dancing into the full pose, as photographed. Turn your gaze to the ground, bend your right knee and take hold of the base of your big toe. You’ll want to steady the effort in your standing leg as you inhale and extend your right leg toward the sky. Keep both shoulder blades firmly gripping your back body as you spiral your right thighbone in, lengthen through your tail, and energize through your leg to the sole of your foot. Steady now, on an inhalation, turn face towards the sky. Can you gaze at the tip of your nose as you open graciously across your heart, chest, and shoulders?

When you are ready to land, release the big toe grip, take both hands to the earth and press back to Adho Mukha Svanasana. Inhale to plank, and come into the second side.

Rest in Balasana (child’s pose), surrendering your efforts and the weight of your body to the sweet embrace of Mama Earth.

 

Chrisandra Fox teaches weekly classes at Yoga Tree, Yoga Garden and leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats in California and beyond. She teaches in Yoga Tree’s 200-hour Teacher Training.

Chrisandra@gmail.com

Faern is a mixed media artist, photographer and yoga practitioner in San Francisco. Visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

 

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