Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)

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Side Plank Pose, Vasisthasana, (VAH-shees-THAH-suh-nuh)

vasistha (most excellent or best) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Sage Vasistha’s Pose, Pose Dedicated to the Sage Vasistha

Pose Type: Core Activating, Strengthening, Balancing

Difficulty: Intermediate

a man in black yoga clothes doing side plank pose

Transforming the Plank Pose into an arm balance, the Side Plank Pose strengthens the arms and wrists and entire core.

Side Plank Pose Fundamentals

Find strength and length in this core-building yoga pose. Side plank is a fun pose to work on and is very useful if you’re looking to build endurance. 

Side Plank combines strengthening with balancing and stretching, allowing you to simultaneously work on multiple elements of your practice. The bottom leg and arm ground you as you learn to find length in your spine and upper body – and all that while staying stable and still. 

That makes this pose beautiful for working on inner focus too, encouraging you to use your concentration to hold it for longer. Since it is quite powerful, it’s no surprise it’s typically part of more vigorous yoga styles, including Power, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga yoga. 

Although the pose works on your entire body, one of the main benefits is the work it does on your obliques. These side core muscles are often underused, but have an important purpose in stabilizing the core. Working on your obliques will do wonders for your posture. 

It’s normal to shake when you’re holding the pose – it is not designed to be a relaxing asana. Still, don’t concentrate on managing your weight only on one arm. Your abs and bottom leg should do just as much work in order for you to stay stable in the pose. 

Side Plank Pose & Ancient Texts

The pose is called Vasisthasana in Sanskrit, and itit’s+s named after an Indian guru called Vasistha.

He is mentioned in a text called Yoga Vasistha, where he teaches King Ram to find enlightenment after experiencing depression, teaching him his vision is clouded, and he isn’t seeing the full story. In the text, he teaches how to reach liberation, by stating it can happen only when a single soul joins with the universal consciousness. 

In the pose itself, we can find a connection with the symbol of Vasistha, as our vision can also be clouded, if we’re focusing too much on the difficulty of the pose, or the strength of only the bottom arm. The only way to make the pose attainable and effortless is to see the body as a whole.

an annotated image of a man in black yoga clothes doing side plank pose

The Chakra System & Side Plank Pose

Energetically, the pose stimulates the Solar Plexus Chakra, which governs your internal “fire”, or self-confidence. Unblocking this energy center doesn’t only boost your self-esteem, but also allows you to release any feelings of anger and aggression. 

Side Plank Pose Benefits

  • The whole top side of the body is stretched in this pose, from the shoulders, all the way down to the calves.
  • The obliques get a serious workout from this pose, and it also strengthens the abs, shoulders, wrists, legs, and arms. 
  • Opens the chest and engages the diaphragm, allowing you to take full, deep breaths. 
  • The pose requires a lot of concentration, so it can help you further build your mind-to-body connection and awareness
  • With consistent practice, the pose may help you build a healthier and stronger posture. 
  • Prepares the body for more challenging poses, like Wild Thing Pose and Partridge Pose. 

How To Do Side Plank Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Start in Downward Facing Dog and shift into High Plank Pose

2. Roll on the outer edge of the left foot, and if you can, stack the right foot on top of the left.

3. Lift your right hand and extend it towards the sky. Simultaneously, turn your torso to the left. Manage your weight between your bottom arm and foot.

4. Maintain a single diagonal line with your body. Power up your core to keep the hips lifted. 

5. Hold the pose for a couple of breaths. Release back to the High Plank pose, then repeat the same steps on the other side.

Tips And Tricks:

  • If you want to challenge your core, even more, you can practice with your forearm on the floor instead of extending your arm.
  • Your bottom arm should be slightly in front of the shoulder, not directly under it. 
  • Don’t compromise your form for the sake of holding the pose – if you’re wobbling or dropping your hips, perform an easier variation to build strength. 
  • Placing the top foot in front of the bottom foot instead of stacking it on top can help you gain more stability. 
  • Your upper body will feel much easier to hold if you press the hand firmly into the ground and spread the fingers wide. 
  • Actively squeeze your legs together, to better distribute the weight of your body between your hand and your feet. 
  • Keep the bottom arm slightly bent if you are very mobile in the elbow joint to prevent over-extending.

Side Plank Pose Variation:

Side Plank Pose Variation: One Knee Down

a man in black yoga clothes doing side plank pose with one knee down

This variation is ideal for beginners and anyone who is still building their core and upper body strength. With the bottom knee on the floor, this pose will be less challenging for your strength. You should still stay active and keep your core engaged.

Begin in the Tabletop pose and extend your right leg behind you. Point the right foot towards the right side of your mat, and press the sole of the foot into the ground. Open your hip and rotate the left leg, so the hips are aligned. Open your torso towards the right side and extend your right arm towards the sky. 

Side Plank Pose Variation: Kickstand Side Plank 

a man in black yoga clothes doing a kickstand side plank pose

This variation will also help you if you’re struggling to find balance in full Side Plank.

Set yourself up the same as described in the steps above, but as soon as you reach Side Plank, bend the top knee and step the foot in front of you. The foot will come about in the line with your hips.  Keep the leg bent at a 90-degree angle and face the foot away from the front of your body. This variation will still challenge your strength, but will slightly help with balance. 

Side Plank Pose Variation: Advanced Variation With Toe Hook 

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing side plank with a big toe hook

If you’re able to comfortably hold Side Plank for some time, you can try the full expression of the pose. This variation requires both more strength and more flexibility.

To start, bend the upper leg and grab the big toe with your thumb and peace fingers. Then straighten the leg and extend it towards the sky. If you are able to stay stable with one leg lifted but can’t extend it fully while holding the toes, you can also try using a strap or simply raising the top leg without catching the toes. 

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Hips sinking. If your hips are sagging, it might mean you’re not strong enough to hold the pose. The most important thing to focus on in pose is maintaining a straight line in the whole body and keeping your core engaged. Use any variation that allows you to achieve that. 

Falling forward. Another thing that can happen if you still need to build strength is rolling forward. If you’re not able to keep your hips and legs aligned, try lowering one knee to the ground.

Injuries and Surgery

Refrain from practicing the pose if you’ve recently injured your shoulder, wrist, arm, or ankle. Also refrain from the pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated disc, or rheumatoid arthritis. 

Related Poses

Plank Pose

Knee To Elbow Plank Pose

Four Limbed Staff Pose

Half Moon Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Gate Pose

Plank Pose

Extended Side Angle Pose

Counter Poses:

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Sphinx Pose

Child’s Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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