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Benefits of Vasisthasana and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

“Yoga is for everyone” essentially means that the beauty of yoga is that you need not be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits of yoga practice. Yoga, rooted in Indian philosophy, has gained the limelight for improving physical and mental well-being. It includes tools for self-transformation and achieving a state of the union. As per Ayurveda, the human body is composed of four components, namely mind, body, emotion and energy. Therefore, majorly four fundamental yoga paths are known- Bhakti, Karma, Raja and Gnana. Yoga sees the practice of asanas; one such asana is Vasisthasana or side plank yoga. In this post, we’ll briefly introduce Vasisthasana, how to perform this asana and its health benefits.1 

What is Vasisthasana? 

Vasisthasana is derived from Sanskrit words, “Vasistha” meaning wealthy and “asana”, meaning yoga or posture. So, therefore Vasisthasana is considered to be an asana which can make you wealthy in terms of physical and mental health. Adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog pose) is the preparatory pose for Vasisthasana, and balasana (child pose) is the counter pose or opposite pose for Vasisthasana. The follow up pose for Vasisthasana is Salamba sirasana.2 

vasisthasana

How to do it? 

Vasisthasana must be done properly for maximum health benefits. One may perform Vasisthasana in the following manner: 

  • First, stand in Tadasana, your body in this position will be aligned in a straight line from head to heels. 
  • Next, bend forward and rest your palms on the floor and take your legs back. 
  • Turn your whole body to the right and balance it on the right hand and foot only. 
  • Place your left foot on the right one and rest the left palm on your left hip; balance and keep the body straight. 
  • Now, slowly raise the left hand in the air and gaze at the ceiling. Next, raise your left leg in the air and grab your left leg toe with the left hand. This is the Vasisthasana or side plank pose. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. 
  • Next, bring your body back to the original position by first releasing the left hand, holding the left leg toe and the whole body to a resting state. 
  • Breathe out and repeat the steps with other side.2 

Do you know? 

  • In Indian mythology, Vasistha was a saint who had a divine cow which to fulfill all the grants the owner wished, and thus it is believed this divine cow made Vasistha wealthy. This is why Vasistha is considered the Sanskrit word for wealthy. 
  • This asana was described for the first time in a historically popular text of Hinduism, “Vasistha Samhita” in the 15th CE. 

Benefits of Vasisthasana:  

The practice of Vasisthasana may help you reap numerous health benefits, some of these benefits are enlisted below: 

Benefit of Vasisthasana for the muscular system 

Literature supports the practice of Vasisthasana for improving core muscular strength. A literature review by Rathore et al. in 2017 stated that practising asanas like Vasisthasana might help activate core muscles in the body and strengthen them. Additionally, the activation of abdominal muscles may help in improving digestion. Therefore, yogasanas like Vasisthasana may positively impact the muscular system. However, Vasisthasana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. Kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment of any musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, it is advised to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.3 

Benefit of Vasisthasana in scoliosis 

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Stanley et al. conducted a study in 2015 to assess the health benefits of yoga interventions like Vasisthasana for scoliosis. The findings of this study showed that six to eight months of practice with Vasisthasana improved spinal curvature. This effect may be attributed to the strengthening of the muscles. Thus, the practice of asanas like Vasisthasana may positively impact scoliosis, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. Kindly consult your doctor for the proper treatment of scoliosis. Additionally, it is recommended to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.4 

Benefit of Vasisthasana in depression 

Yoga practice may help achieve peace of mind and calm the mind and body. Literature reviews stated that the practice of yogasanas may help manage depression and positively impact the quality of life. Martin et al. conducted a study in 2014 to assess the effect of yogasanas like Vasisthasana on quality of life. Six weeks of practising asanas like Vasisthasana showed a positive impact on depression. However, it is recommended not to rely on this asana alone and consult a doctor for proper treatment of depression. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the guidance of a qualified trainer.5 

Benefit of Vasisthasana for cardiovascular endurance 

Cardiovascular endurance is how well your heart performs while doing activities with a mild to moderate intensity. Caren et al. 2015 conducted a study to assess the effect of yoga interventions on cardiovascular endurance. 12-weeks of the practice of yogasanas like Vasisthasana positively impacted cardiovascular endurance and improved heart rate. Thus, the practice of Vasisthasana may positively impact cardiovascular endurance, but the practice of this asana should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine. So, kindly consult a doctor for proper treatment and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, one should practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.6 

Benefit of Vasisthasana in obesity  

Obesity truly means the presence of excessive body fat and body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2. Literature studies support yoga’s practice to reduce body fat, and that eventually contributes to the reduction of obesity. A study by Alexios et al. done in 2019 stated that the practice of side plank yoga might help reduce abnormal body fat. This indicated that side plank yoga might help in managing obesity. However, it is advised to consult a doctor for proper management of obesity and not rely on this asana alone. Additionally, it is recommended to practice this asana under the supervision of a qualified trainer.7 

Other benefits of Vasisthasana: 

  • Asanas like Vasisthasana may help in reducing fatigue.8 

Note-The above-mentioned benefits of Vasisthasana are done in a limited human population or are based on a literature search. Therefore, these benefits should not be generalized; studies focusing on larger populations must ascertain these claims with greater reliability. 

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. Therefore, you must not rely on Yoga alone to treat any condition. Instead, please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your condition correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn Yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries. 

Based on my know-how, I’ve noticed that the side-bridge yoga pose (Vasisthasana) is effective in activating the Rectus abdominis muscle. It helps strengthen this muscle and can be a useful part of a workout routine.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Risks of Vasisthasana: 

Conditions where Vasisthasana should be performed with caution are:  

  • Vasisthasana involves stretching the wrist, arm, and shoulder; people who suffer from wrist or shoulder pain will find it difficult to perform this asana. In these conditions, the practitioner should avoid overstretching. 
  • Vasisthasana requires you to balance your body on a single hand and leg; balancing can be problematic for people having low blood pressure. 

Conditions where Vasisthasana is contraindicated include:  

  • There is not much evidence related to the practice of Vasisthasana in special populations like pregnant women, children, and the elderly. It is best to refrain from practising this asana in special populations. 
  • For any recent surgery or injury, it is recommended to halt practising Vasisthasana.  

Note: It is always recommended to consult a qualified trainer before adopting Vasisthasana into your daily practice. A prior consultation will help you identify the risks and benefits this asana holds per your condition. 

Also Read: Yoga Asanas for Hair Growth: A Comprehensive Research-Based Guide

Based on my observations, I recommend practising Vasisthasana and similar yogic exercises to improve your overall health and well-being. These practices can enhance endurance and flexibility. Moreover, they may also contribute to better concentration, focus, and voluntary control of breathing, that can positively impact your physical and mental performance.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Conclusion: 

Vasisthasana is derived from Sanskrit words, “Vasistha” meaning wealthy and “asana”, meaning yoga or posture. So, therefore Vasisthasana is considered to be an asana that can make you wealthy in terms of physical and mental health. The practice of this asana may help in improving cardiovascular endurance, depression, scoliosis, muscular system and obesity. Additionally, this asana may help in reducing fatigue, boosting mental performance and improving body postures, etc.  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What is the meaning of Vasisthasana in Sanskrit? 

Vasisthasana is derived from Sanskrit words, “Vasistha” meaning wealthy and “asana”, meaning yoga or posture. So, therefore Vasisthasana is considered to be an asana that can make you wealthy in terms of physical and mental health.1 

2) What are the preparatory and counter poses for Vasisthasana? 

Adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog pose) is the preparatory pose for Vasisthasana, and balasana (child pose) is the counter pose for Vasisthasana.2 

3) What are the steps of Vasisthasana? 

First, stand in Tadasana. Your body in this position will be aligned in a straight line from head to heels. Next, bend forward and rest your palms on the floor and take your legs back. Turn your whole body to the right and balance it on the right hand and foot only. Place your left foot on the right one and rest the left palm on your left hip; balance and keep the body straight. Now, slowly raise your left hand in the air and gaze at the ceiling. Next, raise your left leg in the air and grab your left leg toe with the left hand. This is the Vasisthasana pose; hold this position for about 30 seconds. Bring your body back to the original position, breathe out and repeat the steps with the other side.2 

4) What are the benefits of Vasisthasana? 

The practice of this asana may help in improving cardiovascular endurance, depression, scoliosis, muscular system and obesity. Additionally, this asana may help in reducing fatigue, boost mental performance and improving body postures.3-10 

5) What is the Vasisthasana mythology?

In Indian mythology, Vasistha was a saint who had a divine cow to fulfil all the grants the owner wished and thus, it is believed this divine cow made Vasistha wealthy. This is why Vasistha is considered the Sanskrit word for wealthy. 

References: 

  1. Gautam, Shiv et al. “Clinical Practice Guidelines for Yoga and Other Alternative Therapies for Patients with Mental Disorders.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 62,Suppl 2 (2020): S272-S279. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_776_19. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7001345/ 
  1. B.K.S. Iyengar. Light on Yoga. The bible of Modern Yoga-Its Philosophy and practice-by the world London: Thorsons.1966; 108-109. Available at: https://mantrayogameditation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Light-on-Yoga_-The-Bible-of-Modern-Yoga-PDFDrive.com-.pdf  
  1. Rathore et al. “Anatomical Correlation of Core Muscle Activation in Different Yogic Postures.” International journal of yoga vol. 10, 2 (2017): 59-66. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.205515. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433114/ 
  1. Wainapel, Stanley F et al. “Integrating complementary/alternative medicine into primary care: evaluating the evidence and appropriate implementation.” International journal of general medicine vol. 8 361-72. 7 Dec. 2015, doi:10.2147/IJGM.S66290. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26673479/ 
  1. Martin, Andi Céline, and Melanie R Keats. “The impact of yoga on quality of life and psychological distress in caregivers for patients with cancer.” Oncology nursing forum vol. 41,3 (2014): 257-64. doi:10.1188/14.ONF.257-264. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24769590/ 
  1. Caren et al. “Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength and Endurance, and Flexibility in Hong Kong Chinese Adults: A Controlled Clinical Trial.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM vol. 2015 (2015): 958727. doi:10.1155/2015/958727. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475706/ 
  1. Alexios et al. “High intensity, circuit-type integrated neuromuscular training alters energy balance and reduces body mass and fat in obese women: A 10-month training-detraining randomized controlled trial.” PloS one vol. 13, 8 e0202390. 23 Aug. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202390. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6107179/  
  1. Masoumeh Shohani, Fatemeh Kazemi, Shoboo Rahmati, Milad Azami, The effect of yoga on the quality of life and fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice,Volume 39,2020,101087,ISSN 1744-3881. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101087. 

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