Breaking down the Pose – Vasisthasana

Have you ever been telling your friend about a yoga class you took and been annoyed when their response was “I just don’t think yoga is a real workout”. Well so have we, and we 100% attribute it to people not fully understanding the small intricate movements that force them to work a lot harder in each pose.

Our pose breakdown series shows a visual of the big cues you should be focusing on, as well as highlighting the benefits and risks of the featured poses. Feel free to share with your skeptical friends to help them advance their own practices.

Vasisthasana Side Plank Yoga Pose David Kim Photo by Fluid Frame Photography

Vasisthasana  – also known as Side plank is an incredibly difficult pose when done correctly. It’s what we like to describe as a “total body pose” where every muscle needs to work.

Side plank strengthens your wrists, arms, and shoulder muscles while toning the abdominal organs, those hard to target obliques and the sides of the legs and hips.

Foundation of the pose: The bottom hand is directly underneath your shoulder (to avoid shoulder injuries) and the wrist should be in line with the center of the arch of your feet.

Common mistakes we see both beginners and advanced practitioners make:

1. A lot of people are so focused on the balancing part of the pose that we see their pelvis pushed way in front of their torso. Proper alignment calls for you to pull your abdominal organs toward the lower back and release your inner thighs back behind you. Your legs should mirror the same movements as Tadasana.

2. Another common mistake is the top arm behind the midline of the body forcing the shoulder head to project forward. The top hand should be stacked directly above the bottom hand. Remember this is not a backbend!

The last and most common mistake (especially when tired), is letting the pelvis hang heavily toward the floor. The more you pull your pelvis up and work those Tadasana movements, the more you will feel your obliques working. This mistake is most evident when students start advancing into Vasisthasana B.

All in all, side plank is an incredibly beneficial pose that works all the major muscle groups in your body and the alignment points can keep you occupied forever. Be sure to listen to your shoulders and wrists and ask your instructor for modifications if you are feeling any pain.

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