Exploring outside your comfort zone: Side Plank for Sup Yoga

Alex Keller of Dayton Ohio demonstrates Side Plank for SUP Yogis
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Stand up paddle yoga or sup yoga has taken yoga to the water all over the world.  A practice that combines breath technique, balancing, strength and water is a combination sure to bring about higher bliss for all of us.  Each pose is a journey.  Every movement a nuance to help you get there.  Sometimes it’s challenging, other times it’s bliss.  Whatever it is, it gets US out on the water again and again to make stronger, happier folks out of all of us.  Sup Yoga is here to stay.

Here is a quick tutorial submitted to us by BIC sup yogi Alex Keller on Vasisthasana, or Side Plank.  Take a moment to challenge yourself and get out on the water to try it!

Alex Keller sup yoga BIC SUP
Strength, beauty & poise. Alex Keller shows us the grace of sup yoga on her BIC SUP in Dayton, Ohio Photo by: Shannon Thomas

Vasisthasana – Side Plank tutorial

“There is nothing more magical than practicing on a moving object in nature to bring your whole focus to the mind, body and breath. ” – Alex Keller

Side Plank or Vasisthasana is a challenging balancing pose that increases strength in the whole body. There are several variations of side plank including variations appropriate for those who have difficulty balancing or those who don’t wish to bear weight on their wrists.

Each pose in Yoga is named after someone or something in nature. Side plank is named after the first teacher of Rama, Vasistha. He is one of the Sapta rishis or seven sages. Rama learned from Vasistha to discover the infinite bliss held in the present moment; one must look past discomfort to ascend beyond their limitations.

The challenge of side plank embodies this teaching from Vasistha. While we might experience discomfort during the pose, when we are truly present we can cultivate physical strength and find the same bliss Rama sought.

Alex Keller sup yoga dayton ohio bic sup
Beauty & grace: Finding the balance between strength and softness is where side plank holds a deeper meaning. Photo by: Shannon Thomas

Step-by-Step:  Build Your Plank

Begin on hands and knees in all fours position
with wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Shift the right hand under the heart to the midline of the board.  Spread the fingers wide like a starfish, press actively through each finger engaging the forearm muscles. This will create space in your armpit, contracting the muscles all the way down the right side of the back.

Extend the left leg back and tuck the toes.  Press the ball of the left foot into the board and draw the left hand onto the left hip, finding your balance while the weight shifts into the right hand and right knee. Roll the left hip until both hips are stacked one on top of the other and place the inner edge of the left foot onto the board. For more stability place the sole of the left foot on to the board.

Activate the core and prevent the lower ribs from puffing out, helping the body stay stable on the board. Extend the left arm toward the sky and push away from the board with the right hand, activating the shoulder stabilizing muscles. To increase the challenge progress to steps four and five, to increase stability or if protecting wrists lower to forearm instead of hand.

The next progression is to fully extend the right leg to meet the left, creating a plank-like body position. For more stability stagger the feet so each foot are on either side of the board’s midline.

The final progression is to lift the left leg to hip height, balancing the body’s weight on the right foot and right hand.

Alex Keller sup yoga bic sup
Vasisthasana variation: Lifting the top leg to hip height adds more strength to the pose and asks a yogi to stay quiet in the mind to maintain balance. Photo by Shannon Thomas

Enjoy the strength and alignment that comes with Vasisthasana, or Side Plank and remember the teachings of going within to find strength and sit through the uncomfortable moments so that we can enjoy the bliss that comes on the other side.  Thank you, Alex Keller for a great lesson today!

Alex Keller is passionate about the harmonious joy brought by dedication of mind body health, as expressed in both her professional and personal life. She holds a BS in biology with a concentration in Exercise Physiology and a Master’s of Public Health. She has been teaching group fitness classes and personal training since 2009. Alex is an ACA Level 2 Stand Up Paddle Board instructor, ACA SUP Yoga Endorsed, ACA level 2 Kayak instructor, ACE certified Group Fitness Instructor, an E-RYT 200, RYT 500 Yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance, Power Pilates Certified Mat instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder. Sharing health and adventure is what makes her life great!  Alex lives is Dayton, Ohio

You can connect with her via her website at www.AlexKellerYoga.com



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Evelyn O’Doherty
Evelyn O'Doherty, owner & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0, worked her way up the ranks in the world of stand up paddling. A former surfer gone rogue, Evelyn stepped onto a SUP for the first time in 2009 when a plaguing neck injury kept her out of the water from surfing. Discovering the core benefits and expanded perspective on the water that stand up paddling brings, Ev immediately was hooked. She became a strong SUP racer in the North East and a year-round SUP surfer, gathering multiple top brand sponsorships including becoming a team rider for Starboard SUP and a national ambassador for Kialoa, as well as celebrating all aspects of the sport with additional brand ambassadorships including lululemon athletica, Clif Bar, Cobian, Kaenon & Indo Board. Her love of watersports and commitment to advocacy in preserving our marine environments led to a short film made with The Nature Conservancy as part of their Clean Water initiatives on Long Island, NY, called "A New Perspective". Evelyn just keeps paddling. Today, she's stepped up to take over the helm at Standup Journal after having worked for the magazine for 2 years as senior online editor. Her dedication and belief in the power of print to immerse readers in the watersports they love even if they don't have access to the water in a daily existence plus a powerful desire to spotlight the amazing people doing rad sh*t on the water is what drives her vision for Standup Journal 2.0. Evelyn welcomes the conversation about how to make the magazine benefit as many people as possible and encourages feedback, letters to the editor and communication at editor@standupjournal.com . Now, as owner/publisher for Standup Journal., Evelyn continues to live in East Hampton NY where she has daily access to the water. When the swell is working, you can find her in Montauk rattling around in her Ford Ranger surfboards hanging out the back headed for points East.