Vasisthasana - Side plank pose
Vasisthasana is one of those challenging yoga poses that promote both balance and strength. This pose is performed as the first yoga pose in the Iyengar system as a series of three arm balancing poses. You find Vasisthasana or side plank in many yoga traditions like hatha yoga, power yoga, Vinyasa, and other core yoga styles.
Vasisthasana pronounced as vah-sish-TAHS-anna is derived from the Sanskrit words Vasistha meaning excellent, rich or best and asana meaning posture.
Vasisthasana Step by StepStep 1: You can start this pose in two positions, either the downward facing dog or the plank pose. It is easier to start in the plank pose. When you are in the plank pose, press firmly on the floor with your shoulders aligned with your wrists.
Step 2: Roll both the heels of your feet to the right so that the outer edge of the foot is lying on the floor. Keep the core and legs engaged when turning.
Step 3: Place the other foot on top of the one lying on the floor and ensure that your legs are straightened out.
Step 4: keeping your core engaged, shift the weight of your body on your right arm and lift the left arm upwards as you also change the torso to face to the side. Maintain the position of the right arm so that you will not lose the form of the pose.
Step 5: Lift your left hand up straight and in line with the right one and ensure that your spine is straight all the way through from the top to the tailbone. Align your tailbone with your feet to keep your back straight.
Step 6: hold the position for a set time and then release. Alternate to the other side and repeat.
Side Plank ModificationsThe pose can be modified to become more accessible for beginners. To do this, the asana should be done close to a wall. Perform the pose as described above but place your feet against the wall for support and balance. You could even slightly raise one of your feet and press it against the wall to get your balance.
Preparatory PosesAdho Mukha Svanasana, plank pose, Prasarita Padottanasana, Supta Padangusthasana, Supta Virasana, Ardha Chandrasana
Follow Up PosesUtthita Parsvakonasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Adho Mukha Vrksasana, Adho Mukha Avanasana, Pincha Mayurasana, Salamba Sirsasana, Virabhadrasana II
- Strengthens the arms and wrists
- Strengthens the abdomen and legs
- Stretches the arms, legs, and core
- Improves posture
- Tones the arms, core, and legs
- Enhances focus and concentration
DrishtiIt can be straight ahead or upwards to the raised arm
- There are many variations to this pose which really change in the position of the legs. It can be done as a supported side plank where the upper leg is placed above the lower leg with the feet on the floor. This provides excellent support for the lower body. You can also do the forearm side plank variation in which you place your elbow on the floor for support instead of your palm.
- The forearm, therefore, provides the support your body needs to stay in proper form. The other common variation is where you perform the side plank pose but then lift the upper leg. You can start by raising the leg to be parallel with the floor, and when you have mastered the pose, you can lift it even higher.
TraditionsThe pose is one of the Jnana Yoga which is believed to have been practiced by Vasistha himself. Vasistha is the mind son of Lord Brahma. When he was created, he was embodied and cursed with ignorance of his true nature so that he could suffer being in his own body.
It was until he asked Lord Brahma for a remedy to his suffering that he was taught he was infinite and not his body and mind through Jnana yoga. He became the first student of Jnana yoga and also the first teacher.
Pose TypeArm balance, strength pose
- It is important to keep the body straight from the head all the way to the feet. Ensure that your spine is straight for the correct form.
- Ensure that you keep the core engaged to hold you into position. If you find that the center is slouching, let go of the pose and try again for the short time that your core keeps you upright.