How to Do Full Side Plank Pose in Yoga
Full Side Plank Pose is an advanced variation of Side Plank (Vasisthasana) that will challenge your mind and your muscles. This variation, with the top leg raised, requires open hips and flexible hamstrings, as well as a very strong core.
This pose is sometimes referred to as "Split Sage" or "Full Sage." Because it requires a lot of strength and power, it is often practiced in the earlier stages of a yoga class, when the body is vigorous and the mind is eager.
Benefits of Full Side Plank Pose
This pose strengthens your forearms, wrists, shoulders, and spine. It increases flexibility in the wrists and stretches the hips, hamstrings, and feet. This pose also strengthens and tones all of the core muscles, including the abdominal muscles and lower back. It improves balance, full-body coordination, and grace. It also regulates your ability to concentrate and focus, and is often used as a preparation for other challenging arm balances.
Do not practice this pose if you have an arm, shoulder, or wrist injury. Full Side Plank requires a lot of strength to be performed correctly. It is very easy to injure yourself if you move into the pose too soon. If you do not yet have the strength to do the pose in proper alignment, practice a modified version until you can support your full bodyweight correctly. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Lower your hips and shift your weight forward to come into Plank Pose (the top of a push-up). Keep your palms flat, body extended, and your legs straightened, reaching through your heels.
- Step your feet together and press your weight down through your right hand and forearm. Then roll your body to the right, balancing on the outer edge of your right foot. Stack your left foot on top of your right foot, and keep your legs straight.
- Bend your left knee in toward your chest. Reach along the inside of your left thigh and clasp your left big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of your left hand. Stay here until you feel fully balanced and confident.
- When you feel steady and comfortable, begin to straighten your left leg, reaching your left heel up toward the ceiling. Work toward bringing your left leg perpendicular to the floor.
- Keep your chest open with your left shoulder stacked over your right shoulder. Bring your body — head, shoulders, hips, and heels — into one straight line. Turn your gaze up to your top thumb. Press down through your bottom index finger.
- Engage your abdominal muscles to help keep your body steady. Feel the muscles across your shoulder blades flex. Firm your thighs and press your bottom heel firmly onto the floor.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds. Exhale as you lower your leg and slowly return to Plank Pose, then move into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the opposite side. After having completed both sides, rest in Child’s Pose (Balasana).
Modifications & Variations
When practiced in correct alignment, Full Side Plank will build arm and core strength quickly. Since it’s such a challenging pose, even experienced students will be unlikely to require a more advanced version. Try these simple changes to find the variation that is suitable for you:
- Practice Side Plank Pose with your leg lowered until you have enough strength and balance to feel comfortable holding the pose for 30 seconds. If it is difficult to practice Side Plank, bring your bottom leg’s knee and shin to the mat until you have enough strength to fully support your bodyweight.
- More advanced students can bring the top leg into Half Lotus by placing the top foot in the opposite hip crease. Then reach the top arm behind the body and clasp the toes of the top foot. This challenging variation is called Sage Half Bound Lotus Pose.
Practicing Full Side Plank Pose will add a challenging twist to your regular yoga routine. It's important to make sure you're performing the pose with correct alignment. Otherwise, it’s very easy to injure your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- The foundational alignment for this pose is found in Side Plank (Vasisthasana), Mountain Pose (Tadasana), and Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana). Thoroughly review the iSport guides for these poses before practicing Full Side Plank!
- To learn the correct weight distribution in the pose, practice it with the sole of your bottom foot pressing against a wall.
- If your arms and shoulders start to feel fatigued, you will lose the integrity of the pose. Back off for a while and be careful not to over-strain your body when trying to reach the full expression of the pose.
- Do not try to use brute strength to muscle your way into the pose — this will cause you to overuse your shoulders and wrists. Instead, think of your body as one compact force. Utilize the muscles of your legs, abdomen, and back with equal effort as your arms.
Build Strength & Power
Full Side Plank Pose demands as much inner strength as it does physical power. Remember to stay present with the challenge in the moment. If you strive for a particular outcome, you will lose your focus and will very likely get frustrated. Calm your mind and bring your attention to the pose that you're currently in, not the pose you wish you were in. By relaxing into your present circumstances, you'll be able to discover peace and ease even in the most challenging poses.