Perfect Postures brings you Side Plank!

Gloucestershire Cricketers showing side plank

Vasisthasana (side plank pose) is always a challenging posture. Strengthening arms, shoulders and core, and densifying hip muscles (great if you have to work sitting down) – this posture has it all!

Balance poses present an opportunity to reflect on our own instability – that we can all be thrown off our stride by life’s challenges, or even by a careless comment from a colleague or family member. No one can control the world around them, but we can change our own patterns. Practicing Side Plank or vasisthasana (and it’s many variations – see below), and developing steadiness is a metaphor for developing a steadier mind too.

Step by Step Instructions

Step One

First, come into plank pose, then come into side plank on the right side (right hand supporting on the floor). Firmly ground down into the index finger knuckle and base of your
thumb. Turn your upper right arm outwards, feeling bicep towards thumb. Lift up on your back body and lift your hips very high in space. Your body will feel lighter if your hips are higher, but you’ll be working harder!

Step Two

Draw the shoulder blades together on the back: the top of your chest opens proudly.

Step Three

Lengthen the tailbone! Keep the outer blade of your right foot firmly planted – avoid floating your heel.

Make Life Easier

Yogafurie students show side plank pose with the knee down

Too strenuous or unsteady? Place your right knee on the floor under your right hip. Feeling the strain in your wrists? Lean on your forearm and elbow, rather than your hand.

Gloucestershire Cricketers showing side plank on the elbow rather than the hand

Develop Your Balance

Professional Fighter Mario getting assistance from Ed in side plank

There are a number of ways to further challenge your balance in this posture: in the right dose, additional challenge leads to development. Don’t push too far too soon – that’s the golden rule: it’s easy to become disenchanted, or worse still, you might hurt yourself.

See the pictures below for extra Vasisthasana goodies:

Teacher trainees showing the tree pose variation of side plank

Take a “tree pose” variation. Note: the top hand can be on the top hi rather than elevated.

Key point – lift that top hip! Don’t rest lots of weight into the extended-leg knee.

Similar to the tree pose variation, however, the top leg floats and that decreases the number of points of contact the body has, which in turn means there must be more attention in the remaining contact points. A great way to build concentration as well!

You can further progress this pose by touching top elbow to lifted knee, then extending top leg and top arm, and repeating. Tricky, but good if that’s what you like!

Side Plank
Picture Source: http://www.danilieberman.com/blog/2015/1/5/side-plank-vasisthasana

What a party piece (please enjoy alcohol responsibly)! Top hand takes top foot to stretch the thigh and hip flexors. Without any word of a joke: give yourself six months or more to get anywhere near this. So, what are you waiting for? Better get started (with some of the easier versions)!

A little bit of history…Sage Vasistha

The pose is named after Vasistha, a Hindu. In Hindu mythology, he is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages) in the present Manvantara (the current incarnation of the Universe).
According to the legends, he had been gifted by the Gods a divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners.

Arundhati was Vasistha’s wife. The star Mizar of the stellar constellation Ursa Major (The Big Dipper of Great Bear) is thought of as Vasistha and the small one beside it, Alcor, as
Arundhati.

The big dipper

Sage Vasistha Quote

There are many quotes attributed to Vasistha. I’ve included just one, particularly relevant to the Yoga who applies themselves to new postures, and learns them.

The sky at night

If you take your success too seriously, you get preoccupied with it. The object of your success – whatever you just achieved – then can’t lift you to the next level of achievement – the spiritual. So, as soon as you make up your mind to do something, resolve not to big yourself up when you make it happen. Right from the beginning of endeavors, don’t chase the good feeling of success or fear the bad feeling of failure. Maintain awareness that, although the worldly objects provide some degree of comfort, ultimately, they are worthless. So, any feeling that one is great and another
is terrible is also ultimately worthless.

Here’s some more variations you could try over time of side plank:

Ed showing side plank but holding onto the big toe of the lifted foot
An alternative side plank with the knee down and also down on the elbow
An alternative version with the knee down but the upper leg extended straight up
A great pose to do after side plank is wild thing

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