One Legged Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

One Legged Side Plank Pose, Vasisthasana, Side Plank - SharpMuscle
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The One Legged Side Plank Pose, also known as Side Plank Pose or Vasisthasana, strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, core and legs, while stretching the oblique muscles on the sides of the torso.

Information

Known as:One Legged Side Plank Pose, Vasisthasana, Sage Vasistha’s Pose, Parsva Phalakasana, Side Plank Pose
Sanskrit name:वसिष्ठासन
IAST:vasiṣṭhāsana
Pronunciation:vah-shees-THAH-suh-nuh
Type:Arm balancing, strengthening
Level:Intermediate to advanced
Focus:Legs, wrist, arm, core, shoulders
Total time:30 seconds to a minute
Drishti:Upward toward the top hand that is extended toward the cceiling;
Straight ahead or Downward (beginners)
Chakra:Manipura (solar plexus) Chakra, Sahasrara (crown) Chakra
Indications:Wrists, arms, shoulders, core, legs, abdominal muscles, oblique muscles, digestive system, digestion, balance, stability, flexibility, hamstrings, hip flexors, spine, posture and alignment, endurance, stamina, stress, anxiety
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana)
Preparatory poses:Plank Pose (Phalakasana), Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana), Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
Follow-up poses:Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana), Boat Pose (Navasana), Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II), Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Contraindications:Injury to the ankles, hips, wrists, shoulders, or back, High blood pressure, Abdominal surgery, Pregnant women

Meaning + Mythology

The Vasisthasana takes its name from the Sanskrit which is made from two words — Vasistha + Asana:

  1. Vasistha,” which refers to a sage or seer in Hindu mythology
  2. Asana,” which refer to a pose or posture

Vasisthasana is named after the great sage Vasistha. According to Hindu mythology, Vasistha was one of the seven great sages (Saptarishis) and the guru of Lord Rama. He was known for his immense knowledge of yoga, meditation, and philosophy.

The story goes that Vasistha was once called upon by King Janaka to teach his daughter, Princess Sita, the art of yoga and meditation. Vasistha taught Sita the practice of yoga, and she became a skilled practitioner, eventually marrying Lord Rama, who was also an accomplished yogi.

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The pose itself is said to represent the strength, stability, and balance of Vasistha, who is often depicted as a symbol of wisdom and enlightenment. It is also believed that practicing Vasisthasana can help to activate the Manipura chakra, the third chakra located in the solar plexus region, which is associated with self-esteem, willpower, and personal power.

Hence, the mythology of Vasisthasana reminds us of the importance of seeking knowledge and wisdom, and how the practice of yoga can help us achieve balance and strength in both our physical and spiritual lives.

Benefits of Vasisthasana

The Vasisthasana is a challenging and dynamic posture that offers a wide range of physical and mental benefits, making it an excellent addition to any yoga practice.

However, the physical and mental benefits of this pose are listed below:

Physical Benefits:

  1. Strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, core, and legs
  2. Improves balance and stability
  3. Increases flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors, and spine
  4. Helps to improve posture and alignment
  5. Tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles
  6. Builds endurance and stamina
  7. Stimulates the digestive system and aids in digestion
  8. Relieves tension in the neck and shoulders
  9. Stretches the oblique muscles on the sides of the torso

Mental Benefits:

  1. Improves focus and concentration
  2. Helps to calm and center the mind
  3. Builds self-confidence and inner strength
  4. Helps to relieve stress and anxiety
  5. Boosts overall energy levels and vitality
  6. Promotes a sense of inner balance and harmony
  7. Encourages mindfulness and presence in the moment

One Legged Side Plank Pose Practice Guide

When you straighten your bottom arm, it engages the triceps, particularly the long head of the muscle, which originates from the scapula. This contraction provides stability to the shoulder.

Pressing the bottom foot into the floor and dorsiflexing the ankle (forming a right angle with the tibia) activates the peroneus longus and brevis muscles. These muscles help in maintaining balance and stability.

Initially, the pelvis may sag, but by activating the abductor muscles on the sides of the hips and the lower-side abdominals, you can lift it. Furthermore, pressing the bottom foot’s side into the floor engages the gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata, which help to lift the pelvis. The gluteus maximus contracts to extend the hips or slightly shift them forward, aiding in pelvis stabilization.

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The shoulder girdle is responsible for supporting the weight of the body in Side Plank. When the­ arm is lifted, the muscles come­ into action. The serratus anterior assists in ke­eping the shoulder blade­ in position on the rib cage while trape­zius and rhomboids stabilize the shoulder girdle­. Meanwhile, deltoids and rotator cuff muscle­s team up to support and manage arm moveme­nt.

Side Plank (Vasisthasana) requires a strong core to maintain stability and balance. To hold the body in a straight line, the transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and rectus abdominis all work together. The side plank also strengthens the deep stabilizing muscles of the spine, including the multifidus and quadratus lumborum.

The leg and foot on the bottom side of the body are in charge of sustaining the body’s weight and maintaining balance. The quadriceps and hamstrings support the knee joint, whereas the gluteus maximus and medius support the hip joint. The foot and ankle muscles work to maintain stability and balance.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Start in Plank Pose, with your wrists slightly in front of your shoulders.
  2. Your we­ight should be shifted onto the le­ft hand, while rolling onto the outer e­dge of the left foot. Subse­quently, stack your right foot on top of your left. Finally, bring your right hand to your hip.
  3. Lengthen your body and engage your core, keeping your gaze fixed on a steady point in front of you.
  4. Stay in this position, or raise your right arm up toward the ceiling, turning your head to look at your hand.
  5. Hold the pose for several breaths, or lift your right leg and grasp your big toe with your first two fingers, opening your leg to the side as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.
  6. Slowly release the pose and return to Plank Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Tips

If you are a beginner, follow these tips to do the One Legged Side Plank Pose:

  1. To find more stability, keep both feet on the floor at first. You can try the first two variations shown below.
  2. Start with your top arm alongside your body or on your hip. This will lower your center of gravity and make it easier to balance.
  3. If you feel wobbly, try looking straight ahead at a fixed point on the wall or at your hand on the floor.
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Misalignments

The common misalignments to watch out:

  1. Make sure your hips are lifted and your body is in a long line from your heels to your head. You can also try reaching your bottom foot toward the floor for extra support.
  2. Watch out for leaning backward or sticking your hips out. Engage your core by pulling your navel in and thrusting your hips forward slightly to bring your whole body into the same plane.

Modifications and variations

The One Legged Side Plank Pose can be modified or varied to suit different levels of experience and ability. Following are the modifications and variations of this pose that you can try:

Modifications:

  1. Use a block or blanket under your bottom hand for support if needed.
  2. Keep your bottom knee on the ground for more stability.
  3. Practice against a wall for added support and to help you find your balance.
  4. Hold onto your top ankle with your top hand to help stabilize your body.

Variations:

  1. Knee Down Variation: Start in a regular Side Plank, but lower your bottom knee to the ground for more stability.
  2. Foot Down Variation: Start in a regular Side Plank, but keep both feet on the ground for more support.
  3. Block Under Bottom Hand Variation: Place a yoga block under your bottom hand for extra support.
  4. Top Leg Variation: Lift your top leg up toward the ceiling for an added challenge.
  5. Bind Variation: Reach your top hand behind your back and clasp your bottom ankle for a bind variation.
  6. Knee-to-Elbow Variation: From Side Plank, bring your top knee to touch your top elbow, then return to Side Plank.
  7. Arm Balance Variation: From One Legged Side Plank, bend your bottom elbow and lower your chest toward the floor for an arm balance variation.

Precautions and contraindications

The One Legged Side Plank Pose can be a challenging pose for some individuals. Therefore, it is essential to take certain precautions and note the contraindications before attempting this yoga pose. It also is important to listen to your body and modify or avoid the pose as necessary.

However, the precautions and contraindications are explained below:

  1. Injury to the ankles, hips, wrists, shoulders, or back: The pose demands greatly of strength and stability in the wrists, shoulders, hips, and ankles. If you have any injuries or pain in these areas, performing the pose can exacerbate the problem or cause further injury. It is advisable to avoid this pose or modify it to suit your needs.
  2. High blood pressure: This pose can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure due to the intense physical effort involved. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid this pose or perform it with caution under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
  3. Abdominal surgery: IThis pose should be avoided if you have had abdominal surgery as this might put pressure on the abdomen region and create discomfort or pain.
  4. Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid this pose or practice it under the guidance of a qualified instructor. The pose can be difficult since it requires a lot of strength, thus it may not be good for those who are pregnant.

To avoid injury and reap the greatest benefits from the pose, it is critical to practice attentively and under the supervision of a trained instructor/Instructor.

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