Plank (and its sister pose Chaturanga Dandasana) are 2 of the hardest pose for women….at first. But once you strengthen your foundations in ‘plank’ you can then begin to take on the more challenging arm balance poses. The benefits of plank pose are many; strengthens shoulders, arms & wrists, establishes spinal stability and balance. Another benefit of practicing planks comes when you can move more comfortably through the flow style sequences (i.e. jumping) between the poses. It requires great strength to resist the pull of gravity and to acquire that strength we must resist gravity. In other words, the more we resist the stronger we get. So practice Planks often.
Begin in Down Dog and press your body forward, taking your shoulders over the tops of the hands. You should have a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. Keep your navel drawn in and engage the muscles that wrap around and act like a girdle for your back and belly. Actively lift the tops of the thighs (the head of the femur bones), but DONT lift the hips, instead lengthen the tail bone towards the heels. Keep the chest and collar-bone area broad, open and lifted. Stay for a few breaths. If you need to, go ahead and lower the knees but don’t lose the foundations of the pose.
- breathe & smile
- draw in the belly, & stack shoulders over hands (not wrists)
- energize through the crown of the head and out through the feet
- modify with knees down
- hold your breath
- let the hips drop or the knees sag
- lock the elbows or drop chin to chest
To really be able to float in challenging poses, we need to work with and into our oppositions. In some poses those oppositions are subtle, not in plank. Plank pose really teaches us to become grounded, solid and stable. The action of lifting actually comes from pressing down. So connect to the earth by press down through the hands and feel the body moving upwards. Another opposition is to reach out through the crown of the head and through the heels, then draw the arms and legs back into their sockets. Then broaden and widen the sacrum and energetically pull the thighs towards each other.
As you get stronger you can try some of the more advanced versions of the Plank. Have fun!
**fun fact, Having a pirate ‘walk the plank’ was likely a Hollywood invention , probably for dramatic effect, actually just pushing the rogue seaman overboard was much more efficient .