Vasisthasana, a variation for every practice!

Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya, Kashi Ashram Do you ever feel like your yoga instructor is kind of pissing you off? It’s okay, you can say yes. A great teacher is rarely defined as someone who teaches you only things you are comfortable with. A great teacher takes you to your working edge and gives you the tools to move through your limitations, either real or imagined; needless to say, this can be irritating. When you practice at home you are your teacher. This is a powerful space to hold, and when you fill it you will see the affects in many other areas of your life. You will have an easier time getting in touch and listening to your inner bad ass and your life will be more interesting and fulfilling for it.

This post is designed to bring, Side Plank {Vasisthasana} a powerful pose that offers modifications and variations for every skill set, into your practice. Today as you practice, listen to your body and your breath for cues to tell you where your working edge is, and when you find it, notice how you feel. Are you ready to jump in with everything you’ve got, or is it finally time to stop. As your own teacher it’s up to you how you handle overcoming any set backs. How you handle your working edge will tell you all you need to know about where you are in your practice, and possibly even your life.

This series does not offer a warm up because it is designed to introduce a new pose or variation on a pose you are already comfortable with. A warm up is still important, so spend some time with the previous post, Hanuman Asana, to get your body in the mood. Kyle Knapp, an Atlanta based yoga instructor, and Alexandra Anghelescu, a student at Emory University, are shown here offering their fullest expression in each pose.

Alignment Tip – In every variation of Vasisthasana, you will want the sides of your body to feel long and spacious. Start in standing and bring your right hand to the bottom of your left rib cage. Take deep inhales and feel your ribs expand in every direction; from the front to the back and on your side and then feel these areas contract on your exhales. When you can easily feel your breath expand and contract, begin to move your right hand up your rib cage into your underarm elongating your side body with your hand and your breath. Finish the pose with a standing side stretch. Now, take a moment to feel the expansive energy in your left side and then move to your right side. I learned this technique at a Deb Neubauer‘s workshop and it drastically improved my side plank.


Kula Journal, Side Plank

1. The first step of side plank is a great way to make sure that you understand proper shoulder alignment in this pose. Start by checking out the HSY alignment tips for hands. This will instruct you on your grounded hand (left hand). Come onto the inside edge of your right foot and bring the top of your left foot onto the mat underneath of you. To follow proper alignment into your shoulder bring the head of your arm bone up, elongating the side of your body, and back making space in the front of your chest.


Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya

2. Kick Stand Variation- Place your left hand and left foot on the mat, making a diagonal line, and place the ball of your right foot onto the mat. Bring both of your shoulders up your back, lengthening each side of your body, and towards your spine. From here lift your right arm towards the ceiling and keep it engaged from the shoulder blade out to the tips of your fingers. Actively press the ball of your right foot into the mat and get your hips high, a little higher than that, perfect.



Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya

3. Over the Rainbow {name from Grounded} When you feel steady in Kickstand bring your right foot on top of you left. In this pose your feet are stacked and flexed in what I call Side Plank feet. Your feet should look and feel like you are standing on a diagonal floor. Energetically press through the bottom of your feet and reach through the tips of your right fingers as you lift you hips into a diagonal line or higher.



Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya

4. Top foot lifted- From ankles stacked side plank, continue to energetically hold your legs together like a magnet (this is the action of the pose). Keep both feet flexed as you lift the top leg high, coming into the form of the pose. Continue to find a balance between action and form, while you keep your body narrow. One of my teacher once said pretend you were trying to fit into a toaster, like a yoga pop tart.

Before you go further into your practice take a minute to check in. Are you giving as much of yourself to your practice at home as you would in a class full of yogis? Your practice is for yourself so as you continue, try setting the intention of enjoying the challenge. Find your pose, and next time you make it to class you will find it easier and even more fun to play with your new working edge.


Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya

5. Arm engaged to foot From lunge pose grab the bottom of your right foot. This brings most of your weight into the left side of your body. Slightly bend your left leg as you engage every muscle and you will feel stronger and have an easier time finding balance. As you stack one hip on top of the next continue to press your hand into your foot and vise versa. Lift your right leg towards the sky and straighten both legs, simultaneously scooping your tailbone towards your feet. If you aren’t ready to straighten your leg, place your arm inside your leg and grab the outside of your foot. From here bring your knee into (or towards) a right angle. This is a great way to build strength and find balance on the your way to the full expression of the pose.


Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya6. Bottom foot liftedFrom down dog lift your left leg off the mat. Engage your mid-line (an energetic line through the center of your body that offers stability) as you come onto your right foot and your left arm. Lift your hips and open your right rib cage to the sky. Bring your bent leg parallel to the mat and work towards your full extension. Keep your left foot flexed and engaged as if it was holding you up in a balancing pose. To modify this pose keep your left knee bent or keep your leg extended and place your left foot on the floor. From here you can practice moving deeper into the full expression while building the necessary muscles (hello inner thighs!).


Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya7. Balancing BowFrom traditional side plank (right leg over the left), bend both legs as you bring your right knee into your chest. Allow all of your energy to pull in from the outer edge of your body all the way into your center. If this is new to you picture what this would look like in your mind and eventually your body will follow suit. Grab the front of your right foot as you move your right knee away from your core. Continue to open your thighs as you continue to hold the magnetic energy of the inner thighs together. As you expand into the deepest expression move your energy from the core out to the periphery. To hold the pose continuing to hug your muscular energy in towards your center while you simultaneously expand your muscular energy from your core out.


Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya

8. Wild Thing – {Camatkarasana} From side plank bring the ball of your right foot (top foot) hip width behind your left leg (bottom leg). Keep your left leg straight and continue to ground through all four corners of you left hand. Sweep your right arm over your ear with the palm of your hand facing behind you, and begin to bring your spiritual heart (the center of your chest) into the pose while you curl forward from the bottom tips of your shoulder blades. Your hips eventually follow your heart as they face the ceiling, and move you into a deep front body opener.


 Kula Journal, Side Plank, Yoga With Durgaya

9. Vishvamitrasana – Start in a traditional lunge pose (right foot forward) and drop your back foot parallel to the back of your mat. Align your front heel with your back arch and energetically hug your legs together, towards your mid-line. Bring your upper body to the inside of your pose, like you are bowing in for Lizard Pose. Bring your thighs back and apart as your right arm and shoulder reach under your right thigh. Press every finger pad and all four corners of your right hand into the earth as you hug your right thigh and calf around your right arm. This will lift your right foot off of your mat. If you feel steady here integrate your left shoulder onto your back and reach for the outside of your right foot (keep your right foot flexed with engaged toes). Once again press your inner thighs back and apart and straighten your right leg. From here scoop your tailbone towards the earth and press your right leg towards your right arm, finding your mid-line. Continue to keep your left shoulder blade close to your spine as you expand from your core out and from your periphery in.

How to let your inner bad ass shine: Be good to yourself and when you come to your working edge, work it. When you accomplish a goal, celebrate it. When you get annoyed, ask yourself if you’re working for something bigger than the moment. If the answer is yes continue to harvest tools and momentum that leave your current limitations in the dust.

Enjoy your practice, and contact at with any questions.


Kula Journal, Intuitively Charged Yoga, Durgaya Palmieri

About Durgaya Palmieri

Durgaya Palmieri is the creator and yoga instructor behind Kula Journal. Her love of yoga and community has lead her to the create KJ and to continue to seek out new contributors and readers who will enrich our yoga community with truly inspirational post, teachings and musings. Durgaya recently moved back to the spiritual community she grew up on, Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida. For a full bio check out Yoga With Durgaya's bio page.

2 Responses

  1. Domenica says:

    Excellent! I was just tinryg to figure out the best compen­satory poses for pull-ups the other day and then I happened to see this post.Keep up the good work.

  2. […] of the actual variations to this pose that are yoga poses I have found here. I think this is a wonderful post and I intend to try some of these variations in the future. I […]