yoga stick figure doing side plank pose (vasisthasana)

side plank pose – vasisthasana

(Last Updated On: February 14, 2021)

Side plank (Vasisthasana) is an arm & wrist strengthener that is a great introduction to more advanced arm balances.

getting into the pose

  • From downward facing dog, shift forward to plank.
  • Center the right hand on the mat and drop both heels to the right – bottom knee can be down for support if needed.
  • Begin to peel your left hand up across your chest toward the ceiling, turning your front body toward the left as you do.
  • Engage your right obliques and lift your hips high.

working within the pose

upper body

  • The supporting hand (the one on the ground) should be slightly forward of your shoulder, not directly stacked.
  • Actively press the ground away with your bottom hand, engaging hasta bandha.
  • Firm shoulder blades in toward the spine.
  • Squeeze the tops of triceps to armpits.
  • If you are hyper-mobile in the elbows, keep a micro-bend to protect the joint
  • Keep your top hand active

mid & lower body

  • Keep legs active throughout duration of the pose.
  • Lift hips, engage bottom obliques to reach through the top arm. Bonus – this action in the obliques is good practice if you ever want to achieve one-armed inversions!
  • Balancing in this pose is easiest if you are able to ground the inner edge of your bottom foot so that the entire sole of the foot is on the ground. If you don’t have this mobility in your ankles, don’t try to power through it.

modifications

  • The bottom knee can come down to the ground for support.
  • For a balance challenge, perform the asana with the bottom foot & hand each positioned on a block.
  • For the full extension of the pose (aka Side Plank B or Vasisthasana B), clasp your big toe with index and middle finger, and extend the leg up. Be careful to keep your body in one plane, it can be easy to cave in the chest if your leg isn’t open enough to extend fully.
  • Play with different variations of the top leg – tree, lotus, extended – get creative!

benefits

  • Strengthens wrists, arms, core, and legs
  • Stretches hamstrings if in full expression with top leg extended

contraindications

  • Wrist, shoulder or elbow injuries
  • If you have a hamstring injury, you should not practice the full expression of the pose with the top leg extended

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