Getting a leg up

I did my usual weekend routine of morning sessions at Thrive Yoga. I noticed that I need to improve my cardio conditioning because I am not able to manage my breath once I’ve gotten into the heat of the practice. I’ve had to drop into child’s pose and take a couple of breaths. I’ve assumed that regular yoga practice (3-4 times a week in studio) would be enough to get my aerobic conditioning up to scratch, but now I have my doubts. I may need to head to the gyms a couple of times a week.

The other surprise of the session today was that while I was in vasisthasana (side plank pose), I was able to raise my top leg. Previously, I had either kept both legs down on the ground and concentrated on getting my hips as high as possible or I took the tree variation with my top leg cocked and my foot resting on my calf. Either way, it’s a demanding pose because it takes a lot of core strength and balance in a way that we don’t traditionally practice outside of yoga. Whenever I tried to do a more advanced variation (even with the top leg raised a few inches), my whole body could collapse or totter. My support ankle and my hips would give out. It’s also a physically fatiguing pose so I usually end up in child’s pose afterwards.

Today, I was able to go for the more advanced pose. I did not plan to do it, but merely said impulsively “What the hell” silently in my mind and raised the leg. I surprised myself with how long I was able to sustain the leg in the air and did not lose my balance (except when trying it on the other side).

What was the difference? My home practice has include a variation on side plank for the past six months and it has taken that long to build up the necessary strength.