Asanas · Practice


Vasisthasana (or Side Plank) is a powerful and challenging arm balance that requires strength, flexibility, and balance.

Overflowing with benefits, this posture strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, core, and legs while simultaneously stretching the hips, groins, and hamstrings. A quintessential yoga pose of both strength and flexibility, Vasisthasana also requires balance, concentration, and grace to practice with ease. As with all yoga poses, a keen attention to the breath creates stamina in this difficult asana.

Prep Poses

Due to the fact that Vasisthasana is no easy feat, it is wise to practice preparatory poses to work toward the full expression of the posture.

The following six postures are all excellent prep poses for Vasisthasana:

Table Top
Finding proper alignment and engagement within the hands is essential to be able to practice Vasisthasana. Table Top is the perfect place to practice this engagement without too much weight bearing. Practicing spreading the fingers wide and evenly spacing them apart and “clawing” at the mat with the fingertips creates a strong and stable foundation for Side Plank.
Plank Pose (Adho Mukha Dandasana)
Challenging the arms, legs, and core and creating full body strength, Plank Pose is a great prep for the challenge of taking this same posture onto one arm in Side Plank.
Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
Building strength and stability within the shoulder girdle is essential to maintain integrity within the shoulder joints in Side Plank. Dolphin Pose is a great way to build strength and engagement in these very mobile joints.
Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
Specifically targeting the muscles of the core, this posture will help to build strength and stamina to be able to support the weight of the body with the strength of the core. Adding twists within Boat Pose will work to awaken and strengthen the obliques—key muscles of the core utilized in Vasisthasana.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
As full Vasisthasana requires lots of hamstring flexibility, folding forward to release the back body will help to create the necessary space in the legs to practice the full expression of Side Plank.
Extended Hand-to-Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
As this posture is essentially the same shape as full Vasisthasana, it is an excellent prep to warm up the hips, groins, and hamstrings and to prepare the body for balance.

Modifications of Vasisthasana

Because full Side Plank is such a challenging posture, it can be modified and adapted in many ways to suit just about any practice level of yogis. The following are just a few on the modifications and variations of this pose that you can practice—to build strength, modify for injuries, or just practice in their own right:

Knee-Down Side Plank
Knee-Down, Leg-Up Side Plank
“Kickstand” Side Plank
Staggered Legs Side Plank
Legs Together Side Plank
Forearm Side Plank

How to Practice Full Vasisthasana

Make sure to fully warm up before attempting to practice the full expression of this pose. When you’re ready, follow these steps, being sure to pay attention to all the subtle movements of the body and small details of alignment:

  • Start in Plank Pose with your shoulders aligned over your wrists and your feet together. Spread your fingers wide and evenly space them apart. Bring your feet to touch.
  • Shift your weight into your right hand and become light in your left hand. Roll to the pinky side of your right foot and stack your left foot directly on top of it.
  • Lift your left hand off the floor and draw it to your hip. Firmly press the floor away from you with your right hand and foot and lift your hips up away from the floor. Roll your torso open toward the left side of your mat.
  • Lift your left foot off of your right and bend your knee deeply as you draw it toward your chest.
  • Take hold of your left big toe with a yogi’s toe lock with your left hand (looping your first and middle fingers and thumb around the toe).
  • Externally rotate your left hip so that your toes point up toward the sky and then begin to kick your foot up, straightening your leg as much as possible.
  • Maintain your foundation pressing the floor away from you and send energy up through your left leg. Draw your left shoulder in toward its socket.
  • Hold for five deep breaths before switching to the opposite side.

Vasisthasana is a challenging (but super fun!) asana that is an excellent addition to any yogi’s arsenal. With so many strengthening and stretching benefits, and the ability to help improve balance, concentration, and focus, Side Plank is the perfect pose to find balance between effort and ease and strength and surrender. It is the epitome of yoga.

You Might Also Like

  • Yoga for the Core: Why It’s Important & How To PracticeYoga for the Core: Why It’s Important & How To Practice The core can often be seen as this mysterious part of the body that is either toned by six-pack muscles or just weak. Oftentimes in yoga, teachers instruct students to “activate the core” without totally explaining how or what that means leaving students confused or desperately trying to suck in their bellies while holding their breath. The core can be somewhat complex, but it is absolutely imperative to a healthy and safe yoga practice and its strength can contribute to overall […]
  • AsanasAsanas Downward Dog cultivates strength for the rest of your practice. In addition to working muscles in the arms and shoulders, the whole pose is like a breath of fresh air for the entire body. Downward Dog asks for a beautiful balance in your practice: effort and ease, strength and surrender, muscular effort and flexibility. This is felt by grounding your hands into the mat and running lines up energy up the arms. The energy is carried through the hips, reaching towards the ceiling, and […]
  • Standing Balance Yoga PosturesStanding Balance Yoga Postures Below are easy to follow guidelines to establish a safe and effective balancing practice paired with postures commonly found in any Yoga class. We will start with Tadasana, Mountain Pose as it serves as the blueprint needed to achieve balance physically, mentally and energetically.
  • The Yoga of BalanceThe Yoga of Balance We all have two sides physically, mentally and energetically. Physically, one side tends to be longer or bigger and more or less dominant. Mentally, our left...

All Topics