Laura’s top tips for Vashistasana

A sage practice
This mini sequence is designed over time to allow full Vashistasana with the leg raised, but any specific challenges you meet along the way will need to be mastered, or the pose adapted to suit you.

Asana tips

1. Take your time, so that you work with poses that are within your reach with full awareness, concentration and alignment, and just have a little challenge to keep things fun when you have the energy!
2. When learning any new pose include it in your sequence once the body is warm but before you are tired at the end of practice.
3. With each pose be aware of what to look out for. Your body will have certain tendencies eg tight shoulder or mobile lumbar which you will need to learn to manage.
4. A good teacher should help you with alignment so be sure to find a teacher who does and attend class, not only practice online or at home.

Sequence to include Vashistasana: –

  1. Uttanasana and plenty of forward bend action (ardha hanumanasana/ half splits also helpful) to open the back of the legs. Allow the action to come from the abdomen reaching towards the spine.
  2. Ardha chandrasana. Half moon. Focus on balance, challenge yourself by bringing your “down hand” more in line with your foot. Keep your lower back long – core stable. Hamstring release and hip opening – open the inner groins well.
  3. Parivritta ardha chandrasana. Rotating half moon. Focus on stabilising the hips and pelvic areas, as if hugging the hips toward the centre. This helps lengthen the spine out of the pelvis, keep the stability of sacroiliac joints and overall stability.
  4. Uttitha parsvakonasana (extended side angle) give the direct hip action and shoulder opening: stack up the hips pressing the lower hip forward to open the front ground.
  5. Anantasana (eternity pose/ Vishnu’s pose/ couch pose!) You may need a belt if hamstrings tight, learning to balance here will help stabilise core muscles. Do not bring leg towards the head, but push it away into the hand or belt so as to rotate the outer hip down, away from the shoulder. This way the lower back stays safe and you learn the correct hip action.
  6. Plank- Stabilise the core
  7. Vashistasana I (side plank) Stabilise the core and side body, lift the down hip up into the body. Once stable you can learn to lift the upper leg away from the lower leg, or into side-tree pose and develop strength this way.
  8. WAIT until all the poses above are sthira and sukha- steady and easeful and you understand the actions described above in each pose. Then, finally- put it all together.
  9. Getting into Vashistasana. You can enter from simple side plank, bend up the knee, grab the toe (or belt) and strongly pull up with your foot and push-up with the lower hip. The lower leg is likely to bend, so push through the grounded foot to straighten and lift more. Rest between sides! And enjoy.
Laura Gilmore is a student and teacher of yoga.
Yoga is the healing path she enjoys and shares with students far and wide.
For the opportunity to practice with Laura in person she will be teaching at Bristol City Yoga and her next retreat coming up in May is in France.