How to Do the Yoga-with-Weights Side Plank Exercise

The Side Plank is an unusual yoga-with-weights exercise in that you work only one side of your body at a time, which presents new challenges for balancing. The exercise opens up your shoulder girdle and strengthens your trunk, shoulders, hips, and pelvis. The Side Plank can be a grueling exercise, but it offers enormous benefits for your mind and body.

You need both ankle weights and one hand weight for this exercise. When you’re ready, follow these steps:

  1. Sit on your right hip, and cross your left foot over your right leg, placing your left heel next to your right thigh.

    Hold the hand weight in your left hand, with your palm facing your body.

  2. Straighten your right arm, pressing onto your right hand as you lift your hip from the floor.

    This is the starting position. Press into the foot of your left leg as you lift to help with the burden. The hand weight should be dangling off the ground, and you should be looking at the ground. Your whole body — your shoulder and both legs, as well as your abdominal muscles — supports you here.

  3. As you inhale to a count of four, pull the hand weight above your shoulder as you bend your elbow, drawing your left shoulder blade back and squeezing your shoulder blades together.

    Make sure your wrist is above your shoulder. Rotate your gaze with the weight as you open up your trunk.

  4. As you exhale to a count of four, lower the weight to the starting position.

    Let the weight guide your arm to the floor; don’t throw it down. Follow the weight with your eyes, and stay in tune with your breathing.

If you have trouble with this exercise, do it without the hand weight. You can also support your body with your elbow and forearm rather than your hand.

Do this exercise four to eight times with each arm, pause to rest, and then do another four to eight repetitions with each arm.

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