One Pose—Three Ways
Patty Schneider is the senior teacher for Liberation Prison Yoga in Westchester. "Patty is shy by nature and had to step out of her comfort zone to connect from the heart," commented Anneke Lucas, executive director of Liberation Prison Yoga, a nonprofit that focuses on traumas specific to incarceration. "It paid off in the beautiful warmth she shares along with her adept knowledge as a yoga instructor. I've seen Patty blossom from doing this work, and her students have blossomed as well. Many women with long sentences in maximum security prisons have been forsaken by their families and the world. At Bedford Hills, Patty is that person they can trust, because she can be relied on to show up every week, and they know she cares." Here, Patty reveals the beauty of a side plank:
YogaCity NYC: What pose did you choose and why do you like it?
Patty Schneider: I chose Side Plank to show how even a difficult pose can be made accessible to beginners or people facing physical challenges, depending on the variation you choose. I also love any pose that brings in an element of balance.
YCNYC: Describe the anatomy of the first pose and the body parts engaged.
PS: This variation is called Latch Pose. The supporting knee is lined up under the hip, and the extended foot, supporting knee, and supporting hand are lined up along the mat. The hip points draw up towards the lower rib; the tailbone lengthens towards the heel of the extended foot to keep the body from folding forward and the backside from popping out. The supporting hand presses firmly into the mat to straighten the arm and lift the shoulder away from the floor. The top arm reaches to the ceiling, and the top hand is lined up over the shoulder.
YCNYC: What body parts are engaged in the second pose?
PS: This variation increases the challenge of Latch Pose by increasing the element of balance. Here, it is even more important to engage the core and lengthen the tailbone. The foot of the extended leg flexes and the heel presses away from the body, which also helps keep the balance steady. The option of reaching the arm over the head elongates the side of the body.
YCNYC: What is the overall effect of the third pose on the body, and what does this one add to the understanding of the pose (and mind)?
PS: Forearm Side Plank ups the ante even more, core-wise! I find this variation to be more challenging than regular Side Plank, but I feel solid and strong when I am in it. Here, the elbow of the supporting arm is lined up under the shoulder. The forearm and the palm press into the mat, and so does the outer edge of the bottom foot. The core engages very firmly to help the hips lift up and away from the mat, and the tailbone continues to lengthen towards the heels. It is a great variation for building core strength, and I
often have my class do it dynamically (lifting hips away from the mat, then lowering back down) several times before holding it. This is also the base for a scapular stabilization exercise I did when I was in physical therapy for a shoulder injury.
Currently, Patty teaches a chair yoga class for people aged 60 and above in Dobbs Ferry through Westchester Community College and the Westchester Department of Senior Services. She also instructs restorative yoga class at Tovami Yoga in Mamaroneck.