Side Reclining Leg Lift (Anantasana)

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Side-Reclining Leg Lift, Anantasana, (ah-nahn-TAH-suh-nuh)

ananta (without end) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Vishnuasana, Vishnu Pose, Sleeping Vishnu Pose

Pose Type: Balancing, Stretching

Difficulty: Intermediate

a man wearing black yoga pants doing side reclining leg lift

Give the backs of your legs a deep stretch as you tone your core and stretch your side body.

Side-Reclining Leg Lift Fundamentals

Open your side body and enjoy a deep stretch in your inner thighs with this restorative yoga pose.

Although it is therapeutic, it is not exactly easy as it requires a lot of flexibility in the legs to be achieved. The full expression of the Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose is reserved only for intermediate to advanced students, but it is also easy to adapt for beginner-level.

In Sanskrit, it is named Ananthasana. Ananta translates to eternity or infinity, so some call it the Eternal One’s pose.

Ananta is also the other name of Vishnu, who is seen as someone infinite, with no end, expansive and immortal, and is often depicted in this asana, sometimes lying on a snake. For this reason, the pose is also referred to as Sleeping Vishnu’s Pose or Vishnu’s Couch Pose.

This pose is useful for yoga practitioners who want to deepen their flexibility, but also for gymnasts and athletes who may use more length in the targeted areas as well.

The pose can be included in grounding yoga sequences which focus on harmonizing the Root Chakra and building inner stability and security.

The work on balance and alignment involved, and the connection with the earth, cultivates a sense of focus and inner calm.

an annotated image of a man doing side reclining leg lift

Side-Reclining Leg Lift Benefits

  • Opens and lengthens the hips, hamstrings, inner thighs, and groin. 
  • Activates and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
  • Increases circulation in the legs. 
  • Builds a sense of balance.
  • Relieves symptoms of urinary issues connected with the prostate, testicles, ovaries, uterus, and urinary bladder.
  • Relieves sciatica and some types of arthritis
  • The opening of the side body and pelvis directly impacts the health of the spine and may aid in building better posture
  • Stimulates internal organs, promoting their health and boosting detoxification. 

How To Do Side-Reclining Leg Lift: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Lie on the floor on your right side. Flex the right ankle and push the foot into the ground to feel more stable.

2. Stretch the right arm on the floor, underneath the head, and in the same line as your torso. Then bend the elbow and rest your head in your hand.

3. Point the left foot up, bend the leg and bring it towards your upper body.

4. Grab hold of the left big toe, and using your arm as resistance, extend the leg towards the sky. If you’re not able to reach the toe, use a strap. 

5. The leg will want to come forward, but try to push it towards the back, so it’s in line with the rest of your body. 

6. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep, long breaths and release. Roll over to the other side and repeat the same steps. 

Tips And Tricks:

  • Keep your core active to avoid wobbling and to maintain balance. 
  • The stability also comes with good alignment – strive to keep your entire body in a single line. 
  • If you’re not able to maintain good alignment while holding your big toe, use one of the variations explained below. 
  • Keep both feet flexed and extend through the heels to find strength and stability in the pose. 

Side-Reclining Leg Lift Variation:

Side Reclining Leg Lift Variation: With Props

a man doing side reclining leg lift with a strap

When just beginning to learn this pose, it may be difficult to reach the full expression of the pose without compromising stability or form. If that’s the case for you, you can make use of props in several ways.

One of the most common ways to tackle the loss of balance is by pressing your back or the sole of the bottom foot to a wall. You can also combine both variations by keeping the foot on the wall and supporting your back with a bolster.

If flexibility is an issue, you can always loop a strap, belt, or a rolled t-shirt around the foot to expand your reach.  

Side Reclining Leg Lift Variation: Easy Side Reclining Pose

This variation is another option for those who are looking for a more beginner-friendly version of the pose.

You will perform all the same preparatory steps as for the full Side Reclining Leg Lift. The only difference is in the top leg – rather than grabbing the toe with your hand, you will lift the leg as much as you can without compromising your alignment.

The leg will naturally be lifted much less than in the full expression of the pose, and the modification will work more on glute and outer thigh strength than inner thigh flexibility. It will still help you build the required balance for the full expression of the pose. 

Side Reclining Leg Lift Variation:  Advanced Variation 

  • a man doing side reclining leg lift clasping the leg with the elbow
  • a man doing side reclining leg lift clasping the leg with the elbow

Once you’ve got a hang of the Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose and want to take it a step further, you can move your hand from your toe towards the ankle, and try to pull the leg closer to your head.

In the full version of this variation, the elbow is hooked on the calf and the top leg is touching the torso.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Losing balance. If you are wobbling and aren’t able to maintain stability in the pose, practice a modified version. 

Incorrect alignment. Forcing yourself will lead you to lose your form – you shouldn’t bend the raised leg and should keep the same line in the entire body. If that’s too difficult, you will gain a much greater benefit by practicing an easier variation of the pose.


Avoid the if you have an injury or have recently undergone surgery in the shoulders, wrists, ankles, knees, hips, and spine.

Related Poses

Reclining Big Toe Pose

Bird Of Paradise Pose

Infinity Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Gate Pose

Extended Triangle Pose

Side Plank Pose

Counter Poses:

Downward Facing Dog

Staff Pose

Bow 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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