How to Do Side Plank Pose in Yoga (Guide to Vasisthasana)

Side Plank Pose is an excellent arm and core strengthening yoga posture, providing a truly whole body and mind workout. This pose is named after the ancient Vedic sage Vasistha, who is believed to have helped provide clarity of mind to King Ram, a highly revered Hindu deity. Likewise, this pose can also provide you with great inner strength and clarity as you move through any challenges you may face in life.

“Side Plank Pose is one of those yoga poses that I truly have a love-hate relationship with,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “But through this inner push and pull, I am able to observe the inner workings of my mind. How at times I push myself towards craving or striving and then pull backward in aversion or fear, teaching me the ultimate lesson in finding inner equanimity no matter what is happening externally.”

Side Plank Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Vasisthasana
Pose Type: Arm Balance Yoga Poses, Balancing Yoga Poses, Core Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Abdominals, wrists, arms, shoulders, back, thighs, and outer feet
Benefits: Strengthens the abdominals, stretches and strengthens the wrists and arms, opens the shoulders, builds the outer thighs, lengthens and engages the back, improves balances, and stimulates the outer feet
Preparatory Poses: Plank Pose, Boat Pose, Downward Facing Dog Pose, Half Moon Pose, and Extended Side Angle Pose

How to Do Side Plank Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Begin in plank pose by placing your hands directly underneath your shoulders and balancing onto the balls of your feet as you bring your entire body into one line. Make a strong base with your palms by pressing into the four corners of your hands and spreading your fingers apart.
  2. Move your hands slightly forwards so that your hands are not directly under your shoulders.
  3. Slowly shift your weight into your right hand as you lift your left arm off the mat and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot as you stack your left foot on top of your right foot.
  4. Raise your left arm up in line with your shoulders as you open your chest, abdomen, and legs to the left side, making your body into a straight line.
  5. Try to bring your arms into one line and gaze towards your left fingertips.
  6. Hold in this position for a few breaths. To exit the pose, slowly return your left hand down to the mat and shift back into a plank pose. Then repeat the pose on the opposite side.

Beginner’s Tip

If you have sensitive wrists, opt for the forearm version instead, in which you place the forearm of your bottom arm down onto the ground as the base for lifting into this pose. Another variation is to place your lower knee down on the ground and extend your foot behind you at a 90-degree angle with the top of your foot flat on the mat, forming a kickstand position to help distribute the weight off your wrists.

Make sure to lift your lower abdomen and lower thigh upwards to engage your entire body and prevent collapsing into your bottom arm or shoulder.

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