Sleeping Vishnu Pose - Anantasana

Sleeping Vishnu - Anantasana
Ann Pizer
  • Also Known As: Reclining Vishnu Pose, Vishnu's Couch Pose
  • Type of pose: Balancing
  • Benefits: Improves balance; stretches the hamstrings, inner thighs, and calves.

Working on balance and core strength are important parts of any yoga practice. We do a lot of standing balances and even arm balances, but balancing on your side is pretty rare and offers a really different experience. The name (sleeping?!) and appearance of anantasana are misleading, because it's really quite a challenge to stay balanced on the knife's edge of your side without tipping over. It's also a nice addition to any practice because it forces you to stabilize yourself in a way that your body and your mind are not used to. Changing it up like that is what yoga is all about. And it's always good for a laugh to be in a room full of adults tipping this way and that. Oh yeah, and you're going to stretch your hamstrings and inner thighs like crazy while you're at it. Have a strap handy if those are areas of tightness for you.


  1. Begin by lying on your back.
  2. Stretch your right arm to the back of your mat. Roll over onto your right side. Your head will rest on your upper arm.
  3. Bend your right arm and lift your head. Bring your right hand to cup and support your head with the fingers pointing toward your chin.
  4. Flex both feet. Keep them flexed throughout this pose.
  5. Try to keep your whole body in one line from elbow to heels. Don't tip forward or backward.
  6. Bend your left knee and take hold of the big toe with your left hand in a yogi toe lock. (This may be where things get really tippy.)
  7. Straighten your left leg toward the ceiling as much as possible.
  8. Maintain your balance on your side without rolling.
  9. Release your toe and roll to your back. Repeat the pose lying on your left side.

Beginners' Tips

  • If you're really tipping a lot, skip step 3 where your prop your head up with your hand. Keep your arm down on your mat with your cheek resting on your arm instead.
  • If it's difficult for you to straighten your left leg, you have a few options. You can keep the leg bent, but it's easier to balance if you straighten the leg using a strap. Make a loop in the strap and slide it to the ball or instep of your left foot. Hold the strap in your left hand and straighten your leg, using the strap to give yourself as much extra arm length as you need.

Advanced Tips

  • If you have the flexibility, you can bring your left leg beyond the vertical position. Draw your left knee toward your left ear while maintaining your balance. 
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