Benefits of Vrschikasana Pose:
Create stability and strength in the spine, shoulders and core
Increase muscle recruitment during other workouts
Reduce stress and decrease depression
Where to start:
When working on yoga poses and stability remember that LESS IS MORE! Start out with the basics. Most of my clients jump into exercises that are extreme and too hard for them. This puts people at risk for injury which eventually turns into failure and resentment.
START SLOW and master each position before moving on. Practice moves that will engage your core and prepare you for the next progression. Start working on holding yourself above gravity with a plank. Push your elbows away from the floor and engage your core:
Once you master the plank you can start to lift one leg off the floor at a time and hold that position. Next, try raising your leg as high as you can and hold:
Progress by using your elbows and head as your base and using a wall to help you balance. Kick your feet up onto the wall and try to get into the position and hold it. If you cannot hold the position with your feet off of the wall, keep your feet on the wall and lift one leg off of the wall at a time and hold that position. While in the pose hold, work on your form.
Remember to keep your entire body ACTIVE. Focus on what EVERY part of your body is doing, and try to flex as many muscles as you can. DO NOT just hang on your ligaments aka letting your body sag in the position. Engage your core, glutes, and legs to help you balance correctly. Perform these holds for 4-6 sets of a 20 second hold and work up to 4 sets of a 1 minute hold, 2 minute hold, and so on. Once you are stable while holding the position try slowly moving your legs around to shift your weight to challenge your core in several directions while trying to maintain the position.
Once your body becomes stable with a three point base, use your serratus anterior (with a protraction movement) and shoulder musculature to push your body away from the ground as much as possible to help lift your head off of the ground. Work to hold this position again using 4-6 sets of a 20 second hold, progressing as necessary.
If you look at the picture above you can see how important the abdominal/core muscles are when performing this exercise. The rectus abdominus attaches from the bottom of the sternum to the bottom of the anterior portion of the pelvis. If you are not contracting this muscles most of the force will go into your spine so make sure your core is ACTIVE.
How do you know if it is active? Imagine someone coming up to you and poking you in the stomach while you are holding this pose. You want them to feel your abdominals FLEXED. If they are not flexed, the person's hand will sink into your stomach. If you cannot keep your core tight, REGRESS the exercise and work on the regression until you master it. REMEMBER: quality over quantity. It is safer and more beneficial to perform quality repetitions vs more intense progressions with sloppy form.
Quality form will:
Increase muscle fiber recruitment
Reduce forces going into the joint vs muscle
Help to progress you to the next level FASTER
Reduce risk for injury
Reduce pressure and forces into your bases (shoulders, head/neck)
Get out of your comfort zone ;) Try new things and CHALLENGE your body. Movement is the key to HEALTH.
Dr. Jena Gatses PT, LMT, SFMA, CSCS
CEO of Scientific Fitness