Inspired by recent Pilates classes from Marilyn Rainville, and a vinyasa class from Melinda Mount at East-West Yoga, I’ve gathered some poses that let you compare and strengthen the left and right sides of the body.
Especially if you have scoliosis, you will probably have one side that is weaker and another that is stronger. For instance, my left side waist is strong but doesn’t stretch well, and my right side waist is weak and instead stretches without problem. In the upper body, the sides switch, and I am stronger near the right shoulder blade, and weaker on the left.
The following poses are an opportunity to notice the difference between the left and right sides. To strengthen the weak side, you would want to double the repetition for the pose on the weak side, or, find a movement that targets that area.
Strengthening the weak side will eventually help maintain a strong, balanced handstand. The image above is just for kicks - in yoga we tilt the head to look down between and ahead of our hands. Like so:
When balancing in handstand, you might notice the leg of the weak side being waved back and forth without much control. Here is a drawing of someone trying to scissor their legs into balancing:
If they had strength in their hamstrings, psoas, abs, and lower back muscles, then they would be able to steadily lift up that leg that’s bending forward, and bring forward, the leg that’s stretching out to the back.
In fact, this place in the handstand is similar to the following poses. So, you could do the following in order to prep for handstand.
Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
The side that’s facing the floor is doing a lot of work to lift it up. Think about the obliques and the upper back muscles here.
For the longest time, I wondered why my strong side was more difficult to do. Turns out, it’s the shoulderblade area that was weak, so I would struggle to push up.
Standing Hand-to-toes (Utthita hasta padangusthasana)
Hand-to-toes Twist (Parivrtta utthita hasta padangusthasana)
Anchor down with the standing leg, and use the other side obliques to twist.
Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana 3)
Think about the inner seam of the standing leg.
And check that the lifted leg’s side hip is level, without dropping down towards the floor.
In Warrior 3, the body is in a form just like in the handstand with legs scissored apart, it’s just that the direction of gravity is spun by 90 degrees.
It’s been a year and I am still working on the handstand balance away from the wall. The process of strengthening the body through these preparatory poses give enough opportunity for discovery, that I am not too upset about it.