[Pose of the Week] Optimizing Your Plank Pose (Beginner)
Plank Pose seems simple, but it can be quite challenging! Here’s how to get the most out of this foundational beginner yoga pose.
Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana) may seem like the simplest of yoga poses, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! There are many variations of Plank Pose, but all of them challenge and strengthen a number of areas throughout your body – particularly your core and upper body. This is an arm balance pose, so it also helps with balance, stability, endurance, and focus, all while strengthening your core, arms, shoulders, back, and wrists, and improving your posture. Obviously Plank Pose has a lot going for it!
However, if you have wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or osteoporosis, you should skip this one – or modify the pose by resting your knees on the floor in Half-Plank Pose, or by resting your weight on your forearms.
For an increased challenge, lift one foot a few inches off the floor, hold for a few breaths, then switch legs.
Here are the basic instructions for Plank Pose, as listed on YogaOutlet.com:
- Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Breathe smoothly and evenly through your nose. Bring your thoughts to focus on the present moment.
- Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Do not let your chest collapse.
- Gaze down between your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles toward your spine.
- Tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line.
- Keep your thighs lifted and take care not to let your hips sink too low. If your butt sticks up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your wrists.
- Draw your pelvic floor muscles toward your spine as you contract your abdominal muscles. Keep your head in line with your spine. Broaden across your shoulder blades and across your collarbones.
- Draw down through the bases of your index fingers — do not let your hands roll open toward the pinkie fingers.
- Press the front of your thighs (quadriceps) up toward the ceiling while lengthening your tailbone toward your heels.
- Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for five breaths. If you are using the pose to build strength and stamina, hold for up to five minutes. To release, slowly lower onto your knees, then press back into Child’s Pose and rest. Those practicing Sun Salutations should move directly from Plank into Chaturanga or Knees-Chest-Chin Pose.
A Few Tips for Optimizing the Pose:
Be careful not to let your hips sag or lift up – you want to keep your body in one straight line, from your shoulders to your heels. Shoulders should be aligned directly over your wrists. Engage your biceps and triceps and keep your elbows slightly soft to avoid injury due to hyper-extension.