Give Planking a New Meaning
One of my favorite poses to practice on myself and with my clients is the classic plank pose – also known as the push-up position. Personally, I feel this pose is often overlooked in yoga since it is used more as a transition than as an actual posture in and of itself. But there are so many benefits to holding a plank pose, and if practiced correctly, can be a total body workout. It strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders, back, core, legs and even the glutes. It goes a long way towards improving posture and it is a perfect pose to practice daily since it is a foundational pose that will make mastering other poses much easier. If you are looking to build towards arm balances, inversions, those elusive chaturangas or other balancing postures, having a solid plank practice can go a long way to getting you there.
So how can you get the most out of your plank pose?
- Begin on hands and knees, placing your hands directly under your shoulders, spreading the fingers nice and wide (middle fingers pointing forwards).
- Step your feet back, one at a time until you are balancing on the balls of your feet and pushing back into your heels (this may mean pushing forward through the crown of the head).
- Take 5-10 deep breaths, breathing all the way into the abdomen and pulling the belly button towards the spine on each inhale. Gradually increase the amount of breaths you can hold the pose for. I like to aim for at least 50 breaths but set a goal that works for you.
To get even more out of your pose, remember to push out of your wrist and shoulder joints instead of collapsing into them and to engage your quads by lifting them up towards the ceiling. Bonus points if you can engage your pelvic floor!