Plank pose can be used as a transition between other poses such as downward facing dog or four limbed staff pose. Alternatively, it can be used by itself for its overall body strengthening benefits.
We look at how to do phalakasana or plank pose to include in your yoga exercise regime.
There are different ways that you can begin a plank pose such as from a tabletop pose, from a standing forward fold or from a downward facing dog. Whichever way you begin your plank pose it is an important posture for strengthening and toning.
We will begin from downward facing dog as this will help you incorporate plank pose into your routine.
- From downward facing dog you should roll your torso forward so that your shoulders are in line with your wrists. It is important that your torso is parallel to the floor
- Press your fingers into the floor and firm your outer arms. This ensures that your wrists are properly supported
- Ensure that your shoulder blades are spread apart and strong against your back. You can achieve this by pushing the floor away from you.
- Your fingers should be spread wide apart with the middle finger pointing forward, and your arms need to be straight
- Draw your collarbones away from your sternum
- Tuck your tailbone under so that your torso, hips and legs are in one straight line
- Lengthen your neck and press the crown of your head forward, drawing the base of your skull away from your upper back
- Your toes should be tucked and your heels pressed back
- Hold the pose for between 1 and 4 breaths
- To release from plank pose you can either lower down into kataranga or bend your knees to the floor and go into child pose
Variations Of Plank Pose
To get extra benefit from plank pose you can introduce variations of this posture.
Knee To Nose Plank Pose
- Inhale deeply, pulling your belly in and pressing your palms firmly into the floor
- Gently lift the left leg off the floor and bend the left knee
- Press your right toes into the mat
- Exhale while moving your bent left leg toward your chest
- Bend your neck and bring your nose toward your left knee
- As you are doing this lift your shoulders and round your upper back, curling it to let your knee move closer to your nose
- Maintain alignment with your shoulders over your wrists and hands parallel
- Keep your gaze toward your navel
- Remain in the posture as long as is comfortable, exhaling deeply to prolong the pose
- Inhale and release the left knee, extending it back into plank pose.
- Repeat with the right knee
Knee To Elbow Plank Pose
The knee to elbow plank pose works all of your core muscles.
- Begin in plank pose with your hands firmly planted on the mat beneath your shoulders
- Press into the earth, slightly lifting or rounding between the shoulder blades
- Take a deep breath and then exhale, simultaneously drawing your left knee toward your left elbow
- Squeeze your knee up and in by contracting your abdominal muscles
- Bring your knee as close to your elbow as you can without pushing yourself too hard
- As you inhale return your left leg to the plank position
- Repeat with the right leg
Benefits Of Plank Pose
There are a lot of benefits both physical and mental to doing plank pose. This posture will:
- Improve your core and abdominal strength
- Increase upper body strength
- Enhance spinal stability
- Build hand, wrist, and forearm strength
- Help those with osteoporosis to build bone strength
- Boosts mental focus
- Builds confidence
Things To Bear In Mind When Doing Plank Pose
Anyone starting out in yoga who wants to do plank pose should be aware of a few things before they begin.
First beginners should start with shorter hold times for the plank pose. With time, you can increase the amount of time you stay in the posture. This gives your body time to acclimatize to the challenges of the pose.
The posture places a lot of pressure on your wrists, so it may not be a good choice for anyone suffering from conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. For these people a variation of plank pose such as the forearm version is a better option.
There is also a lot of emphasis and pressure on the abdominal muscles so people with hernias or other abdominal issues should start out with shorter holds.
Testing out how a plank works for you by engaging in short holds will let you know if this pose can be included in your routine.
We hope this guide to plank pose has been helpful and encouraged you to try this excellent posture and its variations.
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