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Side Plank Pose

Side Plank Pose will take common Plank Pose to a whole new level!This pose will test you in a variety of ways, it’s requires a combination of strength, balance and focus. This posture is of course closely related to it’s so-called cousin, Plank Pose. However, one quick peek at Side Plank and you will notice that it will require a bit more effort!

There is a whole slew of Side Plank Pose variations. Some of the variations will make the posture even more challenging, while others will aid in making the pose a bit easier for beginner students. For example, the full pose as taught by BKS Iyengar will require the top leg to be held perpendicular to the floor while maintaining balance on one foot.

Vasisthasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Vasistha” meaning “Best or Excellent”, and “Asana” meaning “Pose”. Of course, like Plank Pose, the body also remains stiff like a wooden board during the posture. It’s also worth noting that many great yoga sages throughout Hindu literature have been named “Vasistha”.

There is no doubt that this posture offers a wide variety of benefits. As a matter of fact, the pose would qualify as a full body posture as the benefits reach the length of the body. It’s important to keep in mind that Side Plank is no laughing matter and may not be easily accessible for all students. However, once attained, this pose will dish out plenty of benefits and fun!

Benefits Of The Pose:

As mentioned earlier, this posture can provide major benefits for the entire body. Students practicing this pose will feel the effects in their arms, wrists, shoulders, abdominals, spine and legs. Side Plank will help strengthen most of the upper body including the arms, wrists, and shoulders. It will also help tone the abdominals and help strengthen the back and spine.

The upper body and back strength gained through this pose could help lead to better posture which carries its own separate health benefits. Strengthening the core during Side Plank Pose will help many people lower the risk of back injuries.

Believe it or not, the full version of this pose will also provide a hip opening and a stretch for the hamstrings. Of course, opening the hips and stretching the hamstrings will help with overall flexibility.

Beyond the physical benefits, this pose also tests your balance and focus. Conquering a difficult pose can lead to better self-confidence and positive thinking. The pose can also get you prepared to move forward with advanced arm balances.

One unique aspect of this posture is that once you have become comfortable with the basic posture, its quite easy to try a more difficult variation that can offer even more benefits both physically and mentally. So, whether you’re a true beginner or advanced yogi, Side Plank Pose can keep providing benefits throughout your yoga practice.

Primary Benefits:

  • Strengthens Arms

  • Strengthens Wrists

  • Strengthens The Spine

  • Strengthens The Shoulders

  • Builds & Tests Endurance

Prep & Follow Up Poses:

Naturally, one of the most common preparatory poses for Side Plank is standard Plank Pose. It’s normal for instructors to transition from Plank Pose into Side Plank. Plank is also a good way to build needed strength for Side Plank. Other prep postures could include Downward Facing Dog Pose and Dolphin Pose.

Follow up poses would include popular inversions like Forearm Stand Pose, Headstand Pose and perhaps Crow Pose. It’s also common to transition from Side Plank Pose into different variations of the pose, these variations may include the Tree Pose variation or Forearm Side Plank. Students could also follow up Side Plank with a Plank Pose and then a yogi pushup.

Modifications & Cautions:

Avoid this pose if you have an arm, wrist or shoulder injury. As always, make sure to fully heal before returning to your practice and consult a doctor.

Make sure to build strength and become comfortable in Plank Pose before moving on to Side Plank Pose.

Be aware of sweaty or slippery feet in this posture, they could cause injury.

You can drop your bottom knee and shin to the ground if needed to make the posture less difficult.

You can also place the top foot on the ground in front of you with a bent knee while keeping the bottom leg extended.

It’s also useful to place the bottom of the feet against a wall to help stabilize the pose.

Other modifications would include more difficult versions of the pose, these would include

Forearm Side Plank, or Side Plank with the top foot placed in Tree Pose position.

The full version of this pose requires the top leg raised into a position making it perpendicular to the floor while holding the foot. This variation is usually not within reach of beginners.

Major Tips:

Keep the legs pressed together and prevent them from moving back and forth.

Stack the hips, also preventing them from leaning forward or backwards.

Don’t allow the hips to drop or sag.

Keep the shoulders, hips, legs and feet in a straight line, firm like a wooden plank.

Keep the shoulders stacked like the hips.

If possible, keep the top foot on top of the lower foot and balance.

Be aware of slippery spots on your mat, especially under the hands and feet.

Don’t forget to engage your core.


Step-By-Step Instructions:

Start in Child’s Pose.

Lift out of Child’s Pose and into table top position with your hands and knees on the ground.

Slowly step your feet backwards with the legs extended, moving into Plank Pose.

Keep the hands pressing into the earth while maintaining a straight line with your body.

Move your feet together.

When ready, slowly roll your body to the left.

Balance on the edge of your left foot while keeping your left hand pressing into the ground.

Place the right foot on top of the left foot with straight legs pressed together.

Keep the hips and shoulders stacked, not allowing them to lean forward or backward.

Reach the right arm toward the sky.

Gaze upward toward the hand if possible.

Remember to keep the shoulders, hips, legs and feet in a straight firm line.

Don’t allow the hips to drop toward the floor.

If balance is difficult or you can’t hold the posture, drop the bottom knee to the ground to help.

Hold the posture for several breaths and then move back into Plank Pose and then to Child’s Pose for a rest before moving forward.

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