Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Side Plank Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


Side Plank Pose is the first balancing pose to master after you become confident in the traditional Plank Pose. Known as Vasisthasana in Sanskrit, practicing this posture gives you great arm and core strength.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations Partnering

Vasisthasana

(Pronounced as "vah-sish-TAHS-anna)

Vasistha was an ancient Indian sage who wrote part of the Rig Veda, and he is the one who inspired this pose. Others in his time considered him like a king among the sages for his humility, patience and mastery over his mind.

How to do Side Plank Pose

Step One

Come into the basic plank position on your yoga mat as if you are about to do Downward Dog Pose. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart with your shoulders directly above your hands. Keep your arms and legs straight. Now bring your feet together with the balls of your feet pressing into the floor. Shift your weight onto your right hand. Turn your body to the right so that only your right hand and the outside edge of your right foot have contact with the mat. Stack your left leg on top of your right leg and rest your left hand on top of your left hip.

Step Two

If you have turned to the right side correctly, then your right hand will now be slightly in front of your right shoulder. Keep your hips up so that your ankles, hips and neck remain in alignment with each other. Now your legs and torso should form a 45-degree angle with the floor.

Step Three

Tuck your shoulder blades firmly into your back and expand your chest. Straighten your legs well, extending the legs through your heels. Do not point the toes. Engage your core muscles to keep your hips lifted and in line with the rest of your body.

Step Four

Reach your left hand up toward the sky while keeping the left arm in line with your shoulders. Maintain an expanded chest. Gaze up at your left thumb if you can. Otherwise, you can look straight in front of you to keep the head in a more neutral position.

Step Five

Hold this position for up to half a minute. Then bring your left arm down, rotate your body back into Plank Pose and rest in Downward Dog Pose, or Adho Mukha Svanasana. When you are ready, repeat this posture for the same amount of time on the other side.

Beginner's Tip:

You can do a halfway version of this pose to build your stamina. Instead of stacking your upper leg on top of the bottom leg, move the top foot in front of you. Bend the knee of your top leg to 90 degrees and place your foot on the ground in front of you so that your knee is in line with your hips, making the top of your thigh as flat as a table top.

The toes of your upper leg should point in the same direction you are facing. That way, the front leg bears some of your weight also. Hold this position to build up your core strength and arm strength. When you are comfortable holding this preparatory position for about a minute, then you are ready to practice the intermediate version of this pose as described above.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Vasisthasana

Pose Level:

Level 2

Contraindications and Cautions:

  1. Recent wrist, arm or shoulder injuries
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Menstruation
  4. *Do not perform this pose until the original Plank Pose is easy for you.*

Modifications and Props:

It is common for the arms of beginners to shake a little when they try to balance. To add stability and train your muscles to feel the correct positioning, you can press the soles of your feet into a wall. Start by getting into Adho Mukha Svanasana with your heels only on the wall. Your weight stays on the balls of your feet on the mat. Then when you shift your body to the right and stack the other foot on top, press the soles of both feet into the wall. Make you sure you push through your heels firmly into the wall.

Benefits:

  • Aligns your back and tones the muscles around your lumbar spine
  • Builds strength in your wrists, arms, core muscles
  • Prepares you for more advanced balancing postures and backbends like the Wild Thing Pose or Camatkarasana

Variations:

When you feel confident in the pose, then try the full variation. If you are balancing on your right side, then bend your left knee and grip your left big toe with your left hand. Wrap your left thumb and forefingers around your left big toe and grasp it tightly. Then exhale as you gradually straighten your left leg and point the sole of your left foot up toward the ceiling.

Once you have fully straightened your left leg, then your left arm will be straight as well. Turn your head and look up at your left hand. After you hold the pose for about half a minute, then release the raised leg and return to Plank Pose. You can rest in Child's Pose for a minute before repeating the pose on the other side, holding it for the same duration.

Next Pose:

Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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