Besides plank, one of the most common core poses in yoga is Vasisthasana, side plank. However, it’s a very strong pose requiring a lot of upper body and core strength. If you think you can’t do a side plank, think again! In this beginners side plank tutorial, I’ll show you the step-by-step progressions to take to side plank like a pro!
Now, as well as strength, the side plank requires balance. Again, there are modifications to progress towards balancing side planks. If you have any issues with the side plank not addressed in this tutorial then please let me know! Whether that’s wrist issues, upper body strength, foot placement, or more progressions to make side plank more challenging!
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Beginners Side Plank Tutorial
When teaching side plank in classes I like to begin with the beginners side plank first. Start kneeling on all fours. Take the left leg behind you and turn the foot out to the left, planting the instep onto the floor. Pivot the right foot to the right. Bring the right hand to the center of the mat, and rotate the torso to the left. This will result in the kneeling side plank shown below.
This is the perfect beginners side plank. As for the top arm, either reach directly up or place the hand at the hip. From here there are many progressions, but working towards full side plank lift the bottom leg and place it behind the right leg. This is a side plank with staggered feet. Which means less balance challenge.
Moving on from here is to introduce more balance, strength and core. Lift the top leg and stack the legs and feet together. It’s normal to feel a little wobbly here initially.
To come out of the pose, you can reverse the order you progressed. Re-stagger the feet, drop the bottom knee and return to all fours. Taking a break after side plank is ideal as it’s a strong pose.
Stop doing this side plank variation!
As I mentioned, there are a TON of variations of side planks. However, if your goal is to progress to stacked side plank there is is one beginners side plank variation that will not get you there! And that is the variation with the top leg lifted.
This is because lifting the top leg makes things easier for the core. It’s a valid modification for half-moon or as an exercise to work the top hip/leg. But, it will not help in progressing to side plank with the legs extended. So what should you try instead? Rather than lift the top leg, instead, work on lifting the bottom knee. Even if briefly away from the floor.
You can keep the tip toes on the floor for support. But work on strength on the side waist, and upper body by pushing down, rather than just holding your body. This is also a great way to work on the strength needed for progressions from stacked leg side planks. There is always room for improvement and to work on more challenges ahead!
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If you enjoyed this tutorial then good news! This is prep for a 60-minute class on Patreon. We explore side plank fully from warm-up to variations in this core flow. Join me on Patreon. For $10 a month you’ll get 2 new videos a month, plus all the previous videos in the Zen Den vault. As always free videos are available on YouTube. I also have a free 7-day yoga challenge to build a home yoga practice in just 15-20 minutes a day. So many ways to stay connected, and grow your practice!
- Which variation of side plank is your preferred version?
- How is your core strength?
- What issues do you have in side plank?
Sim @ Sim's Life
I can hardly get away with doing the plank, let alone even attempting the side plank! :/ It does look like a good stretch out though!
Oh it’s not a stretch! It’s STRENGTH
Oh I do struggle with this one , I’m not sure why, I think I need to stretch a bit more before trying again
Where is the struggle?
I am definitely going to give this a go! Thanks for the tutorial, you always make it seem achievable.
Thanks! That’s what I’m about, making things accessible, and having those little successes that encourage us to continue
Not sure I’d manage the side plank. Although I might be able to do the kneeling side plank without injury.
Kneeling is great! Start where you are today!
I used to struggle with doing side planks when I used to do them a few years ago now, I need to practice again
The progressions and modifications here should help!
I love plank pose, great for the abs and a good pose for quick progression in asana practice!
Yep plank can be a great core workout for sure! And great for building core and upper body strength!