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Students and teachers constantly ask me how to sequence intelligently to make challenging poses more accessible. The answer is simple: Look for the key actions and shapes within the “impossible” pose. Even the biggest and baddest of asanas have actions that can be mastered by all levels of practitioners. If you can teach them to your students (or yourself) in a different relationship to gravity, you’ll be in the fast lane to achieving your challenge pose.
Watching someone soar in Vasisthasana B doesn’t always trigger words like “accessible.” This grand arm balance requires a fine blend of hip and hamstring mobility paired with thoughtful shoulders and a big dose of commitment. The following postures all have similar actions that can be practiced regularly to get you on the path to a comfortable Side Plank B!
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose C
Supta Padangustasana C
Lie on your back with your right knee bent into your chest. Hook your right big toe with the index, middle finger and thumb of your right hand. Extend your right leg straight without pulling your shoulder out of the socket (careful not to plug it in, either–create a nice, engaged, neutral shoulder). Flex your left foot and engage the quad. Extend your left arm out directly from the shoulder with your wrist flexed, palm facing away from you. Rotate your right heel in and toes out encouraging external rotation, as you open your leg out to the right without resting it on the ground. Keep your left quad active and pressing down toward the ground. Hold for 5–8 breaths then return to center and switch legs.
Extended Triangle Pose
Start standing with your feet one leg’s length apart. Rotate your right toes to face the front of your mat and angle your back toes in 45 degrees with heel-to-heel alignment. Lift your arms parallel to the ground and hinge your hips back as you extend your torso evenly over your front leg. Clasp your right big toe with your right thumb, index and middle finger. Extend your left arm directly up toward the ceiling, revolving your chest open so that the shoulders roughly stack. Keep your front quad engaged and turn your gaze to your top fingertips. Take 8 breaths. Press back up to stand and repeat on the second side.
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose C
Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana C
Stand with your legs together. Draw your right knee into your chest and hook your right big toe with your right hand. Extend your left arm straight out to the left with your wrist flexed. Externally rotate your right leg open to the right. Keep the right hip dropping down. Gaze toward your fingertips. Repeat on side two.
Side Plank B
Come into Plank Pose. Place your left hand underneath your face and step your feet together. Roll onto the pinky edge of your left foot. Keep your upper outer left arm firming in. Draw your right knee into your chest and hook the big toe with your fingers. Slowly extend your right leg straight, and as you do this, press the big toe edge of your left foot into the ground until the entire sole of your foot is rooted. Allow your hips to lift and engage your side body. Rotate your gaze up to see your toes for an added balance challenge. Take 5 breaths and release the top leg. Come back to Plank and repeat on the second side.
About Kathryn Budig