Yoga for Paddling: Side Plank Variations


Side Plank Variations for Greater Balance and Power

Our side body muscles are mainly used for lateral flexion of the spine and hiking the hip. This means their strength AND flexibility are key for a successful hip snap and roll in whitewater kayaking.  As well as carrying our kayaks on one shoulder for portages. In stand up paddleboarding these muscles engage as we bend slightly to one side in the final stage of our forward stroke and help us balance when we’re rotated over to the side for other strokes. They also contract and release as we alternate pressure in our feet to keep our boards stable and contract when we’re carrying our boards by the handle on one side. The following side plank variations will help to lengthen and strengthen the side body for greater range of motion, which leads to enhanced balance, power and performance.

Side Plank Variations with Side Stretch











This pose strengthens the bottom side of the body while stretching the top side.

  • Start in all fours hands and knees.
  • Take your left foot out to the side as if it were a kickstand on a bike.
  • Extend your right leg and press the bottom of the right foot, especially the outer edge of the foot, into the mat.
  • Extend your right arm up to the sky and gaze up.
  • Take both shoulders back by squeezing your shoulder blades toward one another.



  • In the next variation take your right arm by your right ear with your fingertips pointed forward.
  • Press the entire sole of the right foot into the mat, especially the outer edge of the right foot and stretch through the right fingertips.
  • Hold for 5 deep and easy breaths and release and switch sides.


Side Plank

This pose is a core and side body strengthener. When the hips of the bottom side of the body engage and lift, it becomes a stretch for the top side of the hip.

  • Start on all fours hands and knees.
  • Inhale to plank position.
  • Turn onto the outer edge of your right foot and stack the left foot on top of the right.
  • Press your right hand and feet into the mat to lift your hips up toward the sky.
  • Extend your left arm to the sky and gaze up.
  • Take both shoulders back on your back.
  • Hold for five deep and easy breaths, release and switch sides.

Anna’s new book Yoga for Paddling is now available for pre-order until April 1st! Every pre-order copy is signed by Anna and includes the free gift of a Yoga for Kayaking DVD! Place your order today – available in stores April 15th.