Vasisthasana works the arms, wrists, sides, outer legs, and low back strongly and brings a glorious stretch into the hip, groin, hamstring, and inner thigh of the raised leg. Enter vasisthasana from a plank position. Bring the feet together behind you and roll onto the outer edge of the right foot, then extend the left hand to the sky. Begin with the legs stacked. Be sure to ground the supporting hand directly beneath the shoulder to ensure stability in the shoulder joint. Work toward the full expression of vasisthasana by floating the top leg to build strength, or practicing side plank with tree legs to work on opening the hips. I recommend playing with both variations.
When you're ready to try the full pose, engage the side body as strongly as you can, then bend the top knee and reach back for the big toe. You might need to lean forward a bit in order to catch the toe with the fingers, so be prepared to compensate for this shift in weight by stabilizing the side body and strengthening the whole hand, spreading the fingers wide and gripping the earth. Once you've got your big toe firmly in hand, flex the foot and straighten the leg, shining the sole of the foot to the sky. Keep the hips and shoulders stacked and the breath steady. Gaze down to the thumb of the supporting hand until you feel stable, then try taking the gaze up to the big toe.
Below is a Vasisthasana sequence I've been playing with this week that'll strengthen the arms and open the hips:
- Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)
- Parivritta parsvakonasana (Revolved side angle)
- Eka pada koundinyasana I (Sage Balance 1)
- Utthan pristhasana (Lizard pose)
- Eka pada koundinyasana II (Albatross)
- Vasisthasana (Side plank)
- Eka Pada Adho Muka Svanasana (One-legged Down Dog)
- Eka pada rajakapotasana (Half pigeon)
- Repeat 1-9 on the opposite side.