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Peak Pose Sequence: Build Your Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2020 in San Francisco or London. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Vasisthasana | Side Plank Yoga | Jason Crandell Yoga Method
In order to prepare your body for Vasisthasana, you need to open your hamstrings, adductors (inner leg muscles) and outer-hips. It’s also a good idea to awaken your core and learn how to work your shoulders safely in the posture.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to the peak pose sequence above:

Poses 1-2: Honestly, I love to start practice on my back—especially when I’m going to tackle demanding postures later on. Supta Padangusthasana is the perfect way to settle in, slow down, and open the hamstrings and adductors.

Poses 2-5: I don’t LOVE core work—only masochists and narcissists, do (right?). But, honestly, I can’t avoid it any longer (I’m past 40 and I’ve gotta push back a little harder than when I was 20). These three poses will strengthen your center and warm up your body in no time. They also provide an “energetic” bridge between mellowing out in Supta Padangusthasana and getting things moving in the standing poses that follow.

Poses 6-10: Down Dog warms up the shoulders, lengthens the spine, and opens the back of the legs. When I’m focusing on Vasisthasana, I emphasize broadening my scapulae, firming the outer edges of my scapulae against the ribs (by engaging my serratus anterior muscles) and externally rotating my upper arms. All of these actions are essential for Vashistasana, too. Pigeon, Gecko, Uttanasana, and Prasarita Padottanasana open the hips, hamstrings, and inner legs.

Poses 11-14: In addition to opening the legs and hips, this combination of standing poses brings attention to the back leg. The back leg in standing poses is similar to the bottom leg in Vasisthasana. It has to be strong and stable in order to support the opening of the top leg. These poses remind me to stay focused on how my entire body works together in all postures.

Pose 15: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana is a standing version of Vasisthasana. Think of them as the same pose with different relationships to gravity. I don’t have an illustration of the leg out to the side—but, be sure to take this version of the pose as well. This is a great opportunity to stay connected to your breath as you practice balancing. It’s going to be even harder to stay connected to your breath in Vasisthasana, so you might as well get started now!

Pose 16: My hamstrings and adductors are relatively tight, so Vasisthasana is still challenging for me. It’s accessible, but it rarely feels graceful! That said, I’m always content after I’ve worked on this pose. If this variation is too much, please feel free to do the posture with your legs stacked or your top leg in Tree Pose.

I hope you enjoy this practice and make some headway in this posture. Feel free to improvise and add whatever you need to the sequence. Please let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Download PDF
{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}


  1. I keep these express sequences in the binder that I made for your sequencing course. I can modify or build on them the way I would use a recipe for cooking. I appreciate your logic and how you boil it down to the bare essentials. I will use this one for my Level 2 class on Saturday. We could use a new peak pose.

    An arm balance like Bakasana, handstand, or L-Dog might be nice early in the sequence to introduce the idea of balancing on the hands and get over some of the fear factor.

    1. This isn’t naive at all, Marianna! I keep it intentionally vague so that practitioners can experiment with breath counts. That said, somewhere between 4-7 seems about right. Thanks for practicing with me.

  2. I’m really glad that you’re doing this, Russ! This is what I want to help students do: use my thought process as a template for your improvisation. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Hi Jason – thank you for this sequence which I have just tried out. I really enjoyed it & found it very helpful.
    I love your approach to yoga and the way you logically sequence … Can I ask, please, is it better for the hand to be on the inside or outside of the foot for Parsvakonasana? I always prefer to have it on the inside …
    Thank you for your insight & knowledge and for sharing your gift.

    1. Thanks, Tess! I’m glad you enjoyed this sequence. I’m happy for the hand to be on either side of the front foot. Placing the hand on the inside of the front foot may help create more opening of the adductors, while placing the hand on the outside of the foot may help you open the chest a touch more. Bottom line: both are reasonable.

  4. This was perfect, just what my body needed. Definitely still a challenging pose for me, but love the sequence to warm up and open into the pose. Thank you!

  5. Dear Jason,

    To add on, I really hope you could also share with us your expert knowledge on how to sequence hand stand and head stand. I am sure it will benefit lots of us! 🙂 🙂 🙂


  6. Wow, fantastic weblog layout! How long have you beeen running a blog for?

    you made bloggving look easy. The whole look of your web site is excellent, let alone the content!

    1. Thanks! We’ve been running this blog for about a year. My wife has been in publishing for long time, so she’s able to put everything together very well. Thanks for reading!

  7. Easiest, most fluid way in to Vasti II that I have ever done! Even surprised myself with how stress free & open it felt. Thanks Jason, great sequencing.

  8. When practicing this sequence do you recommend doing each pose individually or link some of them together? Example: Down Dog to pigeon to lizard to uttanasana. Then the other side. I enjoy practicing with you on YogaGlo. I always learn so much!

    1. Good question, Debbie. In this format, it’s difficult to suggest combinations of postures. It’s best to simply do one pose on both sides, then move on to the next one. Thanks for practicing with me!

    1. Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for practicing with me! Honestly, this sequence lends itself to many different ways of cooling down. It’s fairly hamstring-intensive in the lead up to the arm-balance, so you can skip hamstring-oriented forward bends. You could do a couple seated twists including arch matseyendrasana 1, and an outer hip-opener like pigeon. Follow these with seated meditation or savasana (or both). Or, if you want to keep your energy up for a little longer, you could do a simple backbending sequence.

  9. Thanks, Jason! Just practiced this sequence, repeating 2-6 several times to build heat and strength! With a lot of practice I might be able to hold that version of vashistasana for longer than 1/2 a breath. 😉 Your sequences are always intelligent, but I miss your amazing in-depth cues.
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. I am a new yoga instructor working on sequencing. I love all of your sequencing illustrations. I am wonderign if you could add how long to hold each pose in the descriptions?

    1. My apologies, i shouldve read the other comments. i see that soemone asked a similar question. thank you for this page. i think it will be very helpful!
      om shanti

  11. Hi! I love your sequences! I was just curious as to why you put pigeon and lizard before vira 2? Thanks! Britni

  12. Once again Jason has provided a meaningful practice that has challenged me in a thoughtful way. I look forward to participating in his classes at the YJ Conference in Estes Park each year.

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