Anantasana (Sleeping Vishnu Pose or Side-Lying Leg Lift) registers as 9* on Iyengar’s 60* scale of difficulty.
Ananta is one of Vishnu’s names and is also the name of the serpent on which he sleeps, Sesa. In Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar says of Anantasana, “According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu sleeps in the primeval ocean on his couch Sesa, the thousand-headed serpent. in his sleep a lotus grows from his navel. In that lotus is born the Creator Brahma, who fashions the world. After the creation, Vishnu awakens to reign in the highest heaven, Vaikuntha.”
Practicing this yoga pose is like sleeping on a serpent. While the asana appears to be a relaxing, lounging pose, balancing in Anantasana is actually quite difficult. With such a narrow part of your body resting on the floor, you often begin rolling forward or backward, as if riding on the back of a slithering snake. Rooting down firmly through your forearm and your grounded leg proves essential to maintain your balance in this yoga pose.
Think of the effort and attention you bring to this balancing pose as a meditation on calm and stability in the midst of change. How can you be like Vishnu, riding peacefully on the waves of ever-constant change? Perhaps, from the depths of your attentiveness, a sense of serenity will bloom, like a lotus, from within you.