Yoga Pose 101: Vasisthasana or Side Plank Pose

Daniel Scott
Yoga Pose 101: Vasisthasana or Side Plank Pose

Vasisthasana or Side Plank Pose

Pronounced Vah-shish-TAHS-anna

Fun Fact: Vasistha (Hindu “most excellent, richest”) was an ancient Indian sage who owned Nandini, the fabled Cow of Plenty and granter of unlimited wishes. Given the scope of that interesting and empowered partnership, it’s pretty safe to say they would both have a pretty awesome Facebook page.

Benefits

  • Strengthens hands, wrists, arms, core, and legs (Burly Yogi style)
  • Improves balance and focus
  • Yoga Party Trick (great for Instagram)
  • Might grant you unlimited wishes (depending on the wish)

Contraindications/Cautions

  • Wrist issues/shoulder pain? This is not the pose for you… yet. Enjoy the variations below.
  • Sweat a lot? Your feet might slip. You may fall. Get ready to hone your cat-like reflexes.

Entry Asanas

  • Plank (aka top of a push-up): Roll onto one hand in front and outside edge of the same side bottom foot.
  • Downward Facing Dog:  Step foot forward into...
  • Extended Side Angle:  Place opposite hand shoulder distance from front foot, roll onto outside edge of back foot.
  • Hanumanasana: It’s totally possible to grab that front toe with thumb and forefingers, place opposite hand down under shoulder, and slowly swing the extended leg up as you lift up onto the outside edge of the back foot. Totally possible, I tell you.

Body Positioning Guidelines

  1. Front hand is under shoulder (as closed to stacked as possible), fingers spread and pointed towards front of mat.
  2. Vertically stacked shoulders. Think of one long line from top shoulder, through the shoulder blades, bottom shoulder and elbow, into the wrist.
  3. Long top line from ankle to shoulder. Imagine you can roll a marble from your top shoulder, down the ribs, past the top hips and knees, all the way to the top ankle.
  4. Hips lift away from the ground. Expand into the ribs.
  5. Chest can slightly rotate towards the ceiling. A little heart opening never hurt anyone.
  6. Two choices for bottom foot position:  Ankles flexed OR foot planted. In both cases, that top foot is stacked as best as possible.
  7. Fully extended knees and elbows. Not locked, but fully engaged. You should feel like you’re growing in all directions, not balancing perilously atop a sweaty floor.
  8. Top arm can extend in line with bottom hand (towards the heavens) or along vector from the bottom ankle (towards where the wall meets the ceiling).
  9. BREATHE. I just can’t stress that enough.

Modifications and Beginners Tip

  • Painful wrists/weak arms/having trouble lifting the hips away from the ground? You can try rotating your hand towards the long edge of the mat. If that isn’t enough, try lowering down onto your forearm with your fingers turned perpendicular towards the long edge of mat.
  • Focus on strength to find balance. Being extremely flexible actually makes it harder!

Deepen the Pose

Reach top hand towards the ceiling. Lift top ankle in line with top hip. Grab top big toe with top hand and raise the roof. Keeping the bind the whole time, lower that lifted and bound foot towards the front of the mat into Hanumanasana. See? I told you.Now go back ;)

Image credit: BeyondDrishti.com