Plank is a foundational pose that teaches you to hold yourself together, giving you the power you need to move through your daily life. Plank will build your abdominal strength and it can also strengthen your arms and keep your wrists healthy. Over time if you continue to practice this pose your upper back and neck posture can improve and you’ll create support for your lower back by learning to engage your abdominals. In order to experience these benefits, it’s important to create a well aligned Plank Pose. Use self-inquiry to help you get there, always checking in with your body.
Generally, people stand and sit in one of two ways: One way is to collapse the chest, round the shoulders, and allow the head to droop forward and down. The other tendency is to jut the ribs forward, press the chest open and shoulders back and lift the head forward and up. A well aligned Plank Pose will find a balance between these two extremes. When you find true alignment in Plank, you create a long line of energy from the top of your head through your hips to your heels. Your strongly engaged thighs and abdominals support your lower back, while your relaxed shoulders and open chest free your neck. Rather than sagging from your arms and feet, you stabilize your middle section. You’ll feel strong but also light and graceful.
- Start on all fours, with your wrists under your shoulders and wrist creases parallel to the front edge of your mat.
- Step one leg straight back, grounding all the toes; step the other leg back.
- Reach your heels back and firm the legs. Lift your kneecaps and press the tops of your thighs up. Reach your tailbone back.
- Push your hands and all of your fingers steadily and evenly into your mat and straighten your arms.
Refine your posture by pulling your shoulders down away from your ears, lengthening your neck. Explore your shoulder and chest alignment. First, push your hands vigorously down, and round your upper back. Then, draw your shoulder blades down your back and gently toward each other. Feel your breath move into your chest as it expands. Press your thighbones up and lengthen your tailbone back toward your heels, engaging your lower abdominals. Now, try to get longer. Reach the top of your sternum and the crown of your head forward toward the wall in front of you.
Hold for several breaths, letting your awareness grow and a sense of energy fill your whole being. Move out of the pose by bringing the knees back down onto the mat and stretch in whatever way feels comfortable and relax for a few breaths.
For a stronger Plank Pose, imagine you are a dancer being lifted lightly into the air by your partner. If you don’t engage all your muscles, you’ll become dead weight and your partner will struggle to hold your limp body, it’s the same in Plank. If you sag from your arms, the pose is a struggle. Instead, engage your core and you’ll be able to hold the pose with much more ease.
Try these modifications to optimize Plank Pose for your body.
Wrists If your wrists are tight or tender, try rotating your hands slightly outward. Or, try cupping your hands, holding your weight on your fingertips.
Elbows Protect your elbows from hyper-extending by pressing your inner upper arms away from each other until your biceps engage.
Pelvis Bring the pelvis into alignment by pressing the tops of your thighs upward, while lengthening your tailbone back to the wall behind you.
Feet Groung down through all your toes evenly and press the center of your heels straight back to the wall behind you.
Neck If your neck is strained, lengthen it by lifiting the back of your head toward the ceiling until your ears line up with your shoulders.