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Vasisthasana or Side Plank Pose or One Arm Balancing Pose

English Name(s)
Side Plank Pose,
One Arm Balancing Pose
Sanskrit
वशिष्ठासन / Vasisthasana
Pronunciation
vah-sis-TAH-suh-nuh
Meaning
Vasistha = Wealthy
Asana = Pose; Posture

Vasisthasana at a Glance

In Vasisthasana, Vasistha is the name of one of the most revered saints who was also one of the Saptarishis. This pose is primarily included in power, vinyasa and sculpt yoga. This base pose is a perfect transition and is included in Ashtanga and poses. This pose is a balancing posture with the body, legs, and arms straight, the body on one side. The upper arm is raised as high as possible.

Benefits:

  • Vasisthasana strengthens the musculoskeletal system and activates the Solar Plexus (Manipura Chakra).
  • This pose helps to strengthen and tone the abdomen, legs, arms, and shoulders.
  • This is one of the best yoga poses to improve balance, focus, and concentration.
  • It helps to strengthen your back muscles, mainly your lower back.
  • It helps to stretch and strengthen your wrists and hamstrings.

Who can do it?

The Vasisthasana is an intermediate to advanced pose and it requires, proper strength, balance, and flexibility, and not everyone can do it initially. People who are already practicing yoga poses can do this asana. People who are already into activities like dance, gymnastics, and sports can do this asana. Individuals with strong upper body and core can do this asana.

Who should not do it?

Beginners who have just started yoga should avoid doing it in the initial stage. People who have had any wrist, shoulder, elbow, or leg injuries should avoid doing it. People whose core strength is weak should avoid doing it. People with high blood pressure and any abdominal issues should avoid doing it.

How to Do the Vasisthasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

  • This pose helps to prepare the core, upper body, and lower body for more challenging poses like Visvamitrasana, Wild Thing Pose, Side Plank Starfish, Side Plank Pose Eagle Legs, Kapinjalasana, Vasisthasana II.
  • Start with the table pose and come to the plank pose.
  • Keep your wrists slightly in front of the shoulders, and turn your right foot, which means your heel turns out to the right, and the foot’s outer side is placed on the mat.
  • Now stack your left leg over your right leg and engage your core while squeezing your legs.
  • Here, bring yourself on the right hand and right foot (transfer your weight to the right hand, bringing your body to the right.
  • Now you are balanced on your right foot and your right arm on the mat, and your body should be in line from head to heel (keep your core engaged).
  • Now raise your left hand to the ceiling and fingers pointing up.
  • The head should align with the spine and gaze up to your left-hand fingers.
  • Squeeze your inner thighs and tighten your glutes, and this will open your hips.
  • Your chin should be away from your chest and ears from your shoulders.
  • Engage your core to maintain stability and hold this position for 4 to 5 breaths or as per your comfort. Breathe deeply and evenly.
  • When you are ready to release, lower your left arm, return to plank pose, and then to tabletop.
  • Rest in the child’s pose momentarily and then do the same procedure on the other side.

What are the Benefits of the Vasisthasana?

  • The Side plank pose helps to Strengthen your back muscles, that is, your lower back and your deep spinal stabilizing muscle, the quadratus Lumborum.
  • Balancing your body on the arm and foot helps stretch and strengthen your arms.
  • When the leg (left foot) placed on the top is extended, it helps to stretch your hamstrings and adductors.
  • The side plank pose enhances endurance and improves focus and concentration.
  • It helps to strengthen your core, which reduces the risk of back injury.
  • The side plank pose helps to strengthen your arms and shoulders and tones it.
  • This puts good pressure on your abdominal muscles, can be helpful for your digestive system and strengthens your abdomen.
  • Leg muscles, mainly the lower leg and ankle, are actively engaged, improving strength and stability in that area.
  • The Vasisthasana pose can be helpful to prepare for more advanced arm balancing and inversion poses.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Vasisthasana

  • Vasisthasana can help activate the core muscles in your body, which activates and strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps improve digestion. 
  • The side plank pose can be helpful in Scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine). 
  • This can also be helpful to people with mild depression due to their sedentary lifestyle.
  • Practicing Vasisthasana regularly can help reduce excessive body fat, burn extra calories and help in weight management.
  • People with mild back pain can practice this asana to reduce pain.
  • For people with balance issues, maybe with their body or mind, the side plank pose can be helpful to improve their physical and mental balance.
  • Individuals this pose can help improve bone density and balance, which benefits individuals with osteoporosis.
  • The side plank pose can also help reduce your stress and anxiety and calm you.

Safety and Precautions

  • People who have wrist injuries should avoid doing this pose.
  • Individuals with elbow or shoulder injuries are also advised to avoid this pose.
  • If any health concerns with the chest and ribs, avoid this until it’s cured.
  • If you have Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or bursitis, it is likely best to avoid Side Plank.
  • During pregnancy, avoid doing it or with props and a modified version can be done only under the prenatal yoga teacher.
  • People with abdominal surgery should avoid doing it.
  • Individuals with a herniated disc or with rheumatoid arthritis may wish to avoid this pose.
  • Listen to your body. Don’t exceed your physical limits.

Common Mistakes

  • Always do the Preparatory poses before you do this pose.
  • Proper alignment of the body is important while doing this pose.
  • If you Failure to engage your core can affect the balance and stability.
  • Don’t hold your breath.
  • Avoid rounding your shoulders.
  • Pushing yourself too hard can injure your body.

Tip for Vasisthasana

  • Warm-up is a must before doing this pose.
  • Focus on engaging your core muscles to maintain balance and stability.
  • Don’t sag or arch your lower back, and keep your body straight.
  • Your shoulders should be away from your ears to prevent strain.
  • Beginners can do the modified version, which should be done under the guidance of a yoga teacher.
  • Beginners, instead of stacking the feet, bring them apart slightly so that the outer edge of the right. The foot and the inner edge of the left foot are both on the floor.
  • Use props like a yoga block to support your hand for stability.

Physical Alignment Principles for Vasisthasana

  • We will start with the plank pose.
  • Slowly start to shift your body weight to the right hand, and extend your left hand towards the ceiling or sky.
  • Now, we need to open up our body to the left side by placing the left foot directly on top of the right foot.
  • Try to keep both of your legs extended and maintain your balance.
  • Make sure to engage your glutes (Hip muscles).
  • Hold as long as you comfortably can.

Vasisthasana and Breath

In this side plank pose, breath will help to maintain stability and balance. Breath helps to oxygenate the muscles, relax, and calm the mind. While you inhale deeply and engage the core, exhale and maintain the foundation with one arm and foot, which helps center gravity. Keep breathing continuously; it will help balance and increase your physical and mental awareness.

Vasisthasana and Variations

Supported Side Plank Pose

You can bend your top leg and place it in the front (foot forward).

Forearm Side Plank

Instead of supporting the body on the palms, you can use the forearms to support your body (on the floor).

Side Plank with Tree Pose

This is like the tree pose. You can bend the top leg and place your foot on the lower leg thigh.

Side Plank with One Leg Lifted

The top leg, instead of stacking over the other leg, just lift the upper leg.

You can use the wall for support to do the side plank pose and use props for support only under the guidance of the yoga teacher.

Take Away

Vasisthasana is a challenging pose asana that can make you wealthy in terms of physical and mental health when practiced regularly. The practice of this asana can help to improve cardiovascular endurance, depression, scoliosis, muscular system, and obesity. This asana may help reduce fatigue, boost mental performance, improve body postures, and strengthen your core, hips, and arms.

Don’t force your body against its wishes. Do the preparatory poses like the Reclining Hero Pose Supta Virasana Downward-Facing Dog Pose. You can do the pose by choosing the variation according to your physical limitations and enjoy the benefits. Always do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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