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Picture of Side Plank Pose

 

Vasisthasana: Side Plank Pose


Vasisthasana (vah-sish-TAHS-anna) comes in many variations. At its core, side plank is a challenging arm balance that requires core and shoulder strength.

Philosophy + Origin

The word “vasistha” appears in the yogic tradition as the name of several sages, translating to “most excellent, best, richest.” This pose honors all the vasistha sages, including an array of rishis and prajapatis (lords of creation). In one story of Vasistha, he was the proud owner of a famous wish-granting cow named Nandini that helped Vashistha acquire vast wealth.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Wrist relief: To take your wrists out of the equation, practice with your forearm on the ground rather than your palm.
  • Wall: Place your feet firmly against a wall as you lift up into side plank for a more grounded, stable variation.
  • Neck relief: Look down or straight forward to find a comfortable variation for your neck.
  • Balance-aid: Option to take your bottom knee to the ground for additional support. Another option is to keep the bottom leg extended and take the top foot to the ground in front of you.
  • Balance challenge: Lift your hips as high as you can, then float your top leg up.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin in high plank with hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Drop your heels to the right and shift your weight to your right hand.
  2. Slowly reach your left hand up to the ceiling, opening your chest and hips to the left side of your mat. Option to keep your feet staggered or stack the left foot on top of the right.
  3. Press down into the base knuckles of your grounded hand and hug your shoulder blades toward each other and down toward your hips.
  4. Squeeze the inseam of both legs toward each other and imagine they can roll back behind you (internal rotation).
  5. Reach the crown of your head away from your heels.
  6. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Vasistha = most excellent, best
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens arms, wrists, core, and legs
  • Improves physical balance

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Improves mental and emotional balance
  • Boosts confidence

MANTRA:

Guru Mantra

The definition of this Sanskrit mantra is, “The Guru is Brahma (the creator), Lord Vishnu (the preserver), and Lord Shiva (the destroyer). To that very Guru I bow, for He is the Supreme Being, right before my eyes.” In Sanskrit: “Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshwara. Guru Sakshat Parabrahma Tasmai Shree Guruvey Namaha.” This mantra expresses gratitude for all of our teachers — past, present and future.

MUDRA: Gyan Mudra

The mudra of knowledge, gyan mudra is practiced by joining the tip of the index finger with the tip of the thumb. Designed to help improve concentration and mental power, it can also release anger, stress, and depression. Traditionally, this mudra is practiced for 30 to 40 minutes in the early morning.

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