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Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Side Plank Pose, or Vasisthasana, is a dynamic and empowering yoga pose that focuses on strength, balance, and core stability. Named after the sage Vasistha, this pose involves balancing the body on one hand and the side of one foot, creating a powerful line of energy from the feet to the head. Vasisthasana challenges your physical limits while fostering mental clarity and concentration.

Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

The name "Vasisthasana" is derived from Sanskrit:

  • Vasistha: A revered sage in Hindu mythology, symbolizing wealth, prosperity, and spiritual wisdom.

  • Asana: Pose

Thus, Vasisthasana translates to "Pose of the Sage Vasistha," reflecting the balance of strength and wisdom embodied in this pose.


Vasisthasana is pronounced as:

  • Vasistha: Vah-sis-thah

  • Asana: Ah-sah-nah


Anatomy of Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Side Plank Pose engages multiple muscle groups and requires both strength and stability. Understanding the anatomy involved can help you approach this pose with proper alignment and awareness.


Muscle Groups

  1. Arms and Shoulders: The deltoids, triceps, and biceps support the body’s weight. The rotator cuff muscles stabilize the shoulder joint.

  2. Core: The obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis are crucial for maintaining balance and lifting the hips.

  3. Legs: The quadriceps and gluteus medius are engaged to keep the legs straight and stable.

  4. Back: The erector spinae muscles help maintain a straight spine and support balance.


Joint Involvement

  • Shoulders: Require stability and strength to support the body.

  • Wrists: Need to be strong and flexible to handle the pressure of supporting the body.

  • Hips: Engage to lift and stabilize the lower body.

  • Ankles: Stabilize the body, especially the bottom foot, which bears much of the weight.


Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana): Steps / Instructions

  1. Start in Plank Pose (Phalakasana):

  • Begin in a high plank position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels.

  1. Shift to Side Plank:

  • Shift your weight onto your right hand and the outer edge of your right foot.

  • Stack your left foot on top of your right foot and align your body sideways.

  1. Lift Your Hips:

  • Engage your core and lift your hips to form a straight line from your head to your feet.

  • Ensure your hips don’t sag or lift too high.

  1. Extend Your Left Arm:

  • Raise your left arm straight up towards the ceiling, creating a line of energy from your grounded hand to your extended hand.

  1. Find Your Balance:

  • Keep your gaze forward or look up at your raised hand to help with balance.

  • Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, maintaining steady and even breathing.

  1. Switch Sides:

  • Return to the plank pose and repeat the pose on the other side, balancing on your left hand and the outer edge of your left foot.

Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

When to do it

Side Plank Pose is best practiced in the middle of your yoga session when your body is warmed up and your muscles are activated. Morning sessions can be energizing, while evening practices can help build strength and focus.


Preparatory Poses

Preparing your body for Vasisthasana involves warming up the muscles and joints that will be engaged in the pose. Some effective preparatory poses include:

  • Plank Pose (Phalakasana): Builds arm and core strength.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): Warms up the shoulders and stretches the hamstrings.

  • Trikonasana (Triangle Pose): Opens the hips and strengthens the legs.

  • Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose): Engages the obliques and strengthens the legs.

  • Bakasana (Crow Pose): Builds arm balance and core engagement.


Follow-Up Poses

After practicing Vasisthasana, it’s important to cool down and stretch the muscles that were heavily engaged. Follow-up poses can help release tension and restore balance:

  • Balasana (Child’s Pose): Stretches the back and relaxes the body.

  • Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend): Stretches the hamstrings and lower back.

  • Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose): Opens the hips and releases tension.

  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose): Opens the chest and stretches the front body.


Chakra

Vasisthasana is primarily associated with the Manipura Chakra, the solar plexus chakra. This chakra is located near the navel and is connected to personal power, self-esteem, and transformation. Engaging the Manipura Chakra through this pose can enhance your sense of inner strength and confidence.

Manipura Chakra (solar plexus chakra)

Mantra for this Pose

A powerful mantra to accompany Vasisthasana is: “Om Ram” (pronounced as Om Rahm)

This mantra is associated with the Manipura Chakra and can help activate the energy of this center, promoting a sense of empowerment and focus.

“Om Ram” 

Alignment Cues

  • Hand Placement: Ensure your grounded hand is directly under your shoulder for proper alignment.

  • Core Engagement: Keep your core muscles engaged to lift your hips and maintain a straight line.

  • Legs: Stack your feet and engage your leg muscles to keep them straight and stable.

  • Hips: Lift your hips to create a straight line from your head to your feet.

  • Gaze: Look forward or up at your raised hand to help with balance.


Duration of Hold

Hold Vasisthasana for 5-10 breaths initially, gradually increasing the duration as your strength and balance improve. Focus on maintaining proper alignment and breathing steadily.


Drishti

Your drishti (gaze) in Vasisthasana should be either forward, at a point in front of you, or up at your raised hand. This helps with balance and concentration.


Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physical Awareness

  • Strength: Feel the power in your arms, shoulders, and core as they support your body.

  • Balance: Focus on maintaining stability and even distribution of weight.

  • Engagement: Notice the engagement of your leg muscles as you hold the pose.

Spiritual Awareness

  • Empowerment: Vasisthasana cultivates a sense of personal power and confidence.

  • Focus: The pose requires intense concentration, promoting mindfulness and mental clarity.

  • Resilience: Embrace the challenge of the pose, building resilience and determination.


Beginners’ Tips

  • Use Props: Place your bottom knee on the ground for extra support and stability.

  • Practice Balance: Work on simpler balance poses to build confidence and strength.

  • Strengthen Core: Incorporate core-strengthening exercises into your routine to support your lift in the pose.

  • Stretch Regularly: Consistently practice stretches to increase flexibility in your wrists and shoulders.


Who Should Not Do It

  • Injuries: Individuals with wrist, shoulder, or lower back injuries should avoid this pose.

  • Beginners: Those new to yoga or without sufficient strength and balance should practice under supervision or avoid it until ready.

  • Pregnancy: This pose is not recommended during pregnancy due to the balance and core engagement required.


Who Should Do It

  • Experienced Yogis: Those with a solid foundation in arm balances and core strength.

  • Strength Seekers: Individuals looking to build upper body and core strength.

  • Focus Enthusiasts: Those who enjoy challenging poses that require mental concentration and balance.


Benefits of Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Physical Benefits

  • Strengthens Arms and Wrists: Enhances upper body strength and wrist stability.

  • Improves Core Strength: Engages and strengthens the abdominal muscles.

  • Increases Balance and Coordination: Develops a strong sense of balance and body awareness.

  • Tones Legs: Engages and strengthens the leg muscles.


Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Boosts Confidence: Successfully achieving this challenging pose can increase self-esteem and confidence.

  • Promotes Focus: Requires intense concentration, promoting mindfulness and mental clarity.

  • Reduces Stress: Engaging in challenging poses can help release tension and reduce stress levels.


Variations of Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

Advanced Variations

  • Vasisthasana with Extended Leg: Lift your top leg up towards the ceiling, creating an additional challenge for balance and strength.

  • Vasisthasana with Tree Pose: Place your top foot on your inner thigh, mimicking the tree pose while balancing on one arm.

Simplified Variations

  • Supported Side Plank: Keep your bottom knee on the ground for extra support and stability.

  • Forearm Side Plank: Perform the pose with your bottom forearm on the ground to reduce wrist strain.


Modifications for Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

  • Use a Block: Place a block under your grounded hand to elevate the ground and make it easier to balance.

  • Wall Support: Practice with your back against a wall to help maintain balance.

  • Partner Assistance: Have a partner support your raised arm to help you find stability.


Common Mistakes

  • Drooping Hips: Ensure your hips are lifted and aligned with your body.

  • Unengaged Core: Keep your abdominal muscles active to support the lift and balance.

  • Bent Legs: Strive to keep your legs straight and strong, engaging your leg muscles.


Safety and Precautions

  • Warm Up Properly: Ensure your body is adequately warmed up to prevent injuries.

  • Listen to Your Body: Do not push beyond your limits; honor your body’s capabilities.

  • Seek Guidance: Practice under the supervision of a qualified instructor if you’re unsure.


Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face east, the direction of the rising sun, symbolizing new beginnings and clarity. This can enhance the feeling of lightness and renewal that Vasisthasana embodies.


What to Wear for This Pose

Wear fitted, flexible clothing that allows for a full range of motion without slipping or restricting movement. Yoga attire such as leggings and a snug top is ideal.


Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, clean space with enough room to move freely. Use essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus for a refreshing and invigorating atmosphere. Lavender can also be calming and help maintain focus.


Music for This Pose

Choose calm, instrumental music that helps maintain focus and enhances your sense of balance. Soft, rhythmic tunes can aid concentration and create a serene practice environment.


By incorporating these tips and understanding the depth of Vasisthasana, you can approach this challenging pose with confidence, aligning your physical practice with spiritual growth. Remember, yoga is a journey, and each step, no matter how small, brings you closer to inner harmony and strength.



Happy yoga-ing!

Namaste!



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Guest
Jun 25
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Mujhe kafi help Hui padh kar. Dhayaawad apka. Kya aapke videos hai YouTube pe?

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Main bohot khush hoon ki aapko content pasand aaya. YouTube par hamare videos abhi nahi hain, lekin jald hi hum wahan bhi aa rahe hain. Thanks for your interest! Namaste 🙏💜

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Jun 25
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks. It helped me a lot to reduce my love handles. Very nice explanation.

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Thank you! It means a lot to hear that. I’m glad I could help. Namaste 🙏💜

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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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