Who was Vasistha, for whom this pose is named?
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Vasistha was the first of Lord Brahma’s mind-born sons—one of the famous sapta rishis, the “seven sages” who form the constellation known in the West as the Pleiades. Brahma, as you may know, is the creative aspect of the Hindu trinity. He created Vasistha from his thought with the intention of providing a template for eliminating the sorrow of existence. At the moment of Vasistha’s creation, Brahma cursed him with temporary ignorance of his true divine nature, in order that Vasistha would experience the suffering of embodiment and then ask Brahma for the remedy. When Vasistha inquired about how he had come to be trapped in a sorrowful and limited physical existence, Brahma taught him: “You are not the body and mind; you are infinite. You are not bound; your true nature is limitless. Thou art That.”

Thus, Vasistha became the first student of what we now call advaita vedanta, or jnana yoga 

(Jnana wisdom or knowledge) is considered the most difficult of the four main paths of Yoga, requiring great strength of will and intellect. In Jnana yoga, the mind is used to inquire into its own nature and to transcend the mind’s identification with its thoughts and ego).


Vasistha was also the first teacher of jnana yoga. One of his most famous students was Lord Rama. As an adolescent, Rama went on a tour of his father’s kingdom and returned deeply depressed by what he saw of the world. Like the young Buddha in similar circumstances, he encountered people who were sick and suffering, and their misery made him question the meaning of life. He especially doubted his own worth as a future king when he felt powerless to change anyone’s circumstances or improve their lot in life. Then, through a series of stories, Vasistha revealed this truth to Rama: The soul (Self) is real, but the world is false, like a dream. We suffer when we identify with the world’s circumstances and feel that it is up to us to change them. In reality, we simply have to wake up to the infinite joy and contentment inherent in each present moment. Learning to control the mind leads to liberation and to the realisation that we are the Self. All the pleasures that the world holds are nothing compared with the abiding bliss of Self-realisation. Rama and Vasistha’s conversations about the Self are preserved in a work we know as the Yoga Vasistha.

Such an attitude might seem harsh or unfeeling to us in our present time and circumstances—almost an excuse to abdicate responsibility for social or personal action. We should recall that Indian philosophy recognises two levels of reality: an ultimate, transcendent level and the relative level that we experience from day to day. Vasistha wanted Rama to realise that, on the ultimate level, he was not in charge, even though on the relative level, he was the future king and thus very much responsible for others’ welfare. The idea of recognising the joy inherent in each moment does not absolve us from recognising suffering or from doing what we can to alleviate it.


    •    Strengthens the arms, belly, and legs

    •    Stretches and strengthens the wrists

    •    Stretches the backs of the legs

    •    Improves sense of balance


         Not forgetting the mental benefits : 

        That we are limitless even for a moment. If only we could allow ourselves to absorb what is within us and to share this with others.


“ When you come to a point where you have no need to impress      anybody , your freedom will begin “


Step 1

Down Dog : Adho Mukha Svanasana

Find space within the joints and the spine.. Left hand extend slightly forward ( this avoids any compression to the shoulder joint)

Shift onto the outside edge of your left foot, and stack your right foot on top of the left.Right hand onto your right hip, turn your torso to the right as you do, and support the weight of your body on the outer left foot and left hand. Connecting with your core, right hand on hips.


Step 2

Straighten the left arm by firming the triceps muscle, and press the base of the index finger firmly against the floor.


Step 3

Firm the scapulas and sacrum against the back torso. Strengthen the thighs, and press through the heels toward the floor. Align your entire body into one long diagonal line from the heels to the crown.


Step 4

If you’d like you can stretch the top arm toward the ceiling, parallel to the line of the shoulders. Keep the head in a neutral position, or turn it to gaze up at the top hand.

Awareness of Anahata ( Heart centre and the relationship of the arms.


Step 5

Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Come back to Adho Mukha Svanasana, take a few breaths, and repeat to the right side for the same length of time. Then return to Down Dog  for a few more breaths, and finally release into Balasana/ child pose


Contraindications and Cautions

Students with serious wrist, elbow, or shoulder injuries should avoid this pose.
Pregnancy can practice the beginners stage

Modifications and Props

In order to increase the strength and stability of this pose, it’s helpful to work it with your soles pressing against a wall. Perform Adho Mukha Svanasana with your heels up on a wall, the balls of your feet on the floor. When you shift onto the outside of your left foot, press the sole against the wall. Similarly, when you stack your right foot on top of the left, press that sole to the wall. Then in the pose, push your heels actively into the wall.

Preparatory Poses

Down Dog : Adho Mukha Svanasana

Half Moon : Ardho Chandrasana

Plank Pose


Follow-up Poses

Tree : Vrksasana

Down Dog : Adho Much Svanasana

Warrior 11: Virabhadrasana 11


Beginner’s Tip

Beginners often have a difficult time sustaining this pose, even with the soles pressed to a wall. Perform Adho Mukha Svanasana with your heels up on a wall. Measure the distance between your right foot and right hand, then step the foot halfway to the hand. Keep the right foot on the floor for support and turn the toes out to the right. Then shift onto the outside of the left foot, press the sole against the wall, and turn onto the left hand as described above. In this position the bent leg will provide some extra support. Step back to Adho Mukha Svanasana at the end of your stay, then repeat to the other side.


Exhale, bend the top knee, and draw the thigh into the torso. Reach inside the bent leg and use the index and middle fingers of the top hand to grab the big toe. Secure these fingers by wrapping them with the thumb. With an inhalation, stretch the leg perpendicularly toward the ceiling. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then release the grip on the toe, and return the top foot to its original position. Repeat on the second side.

4 thoughts on “Vasistha

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