Kumbhakasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Kumbhak” meaning “Breath Retention”, and “Asana” meaning “Pose”. You will find some students and instructors who may refer to Plank Pose as “Top of a Pushup”. Of course, this is because Plank Pose comes just before we drop into a regular or yogi pushup. Naturally, the name “Plank” was chosen because your body is held stiff and rigid in the posture, much like a plank of wood.
As mentioned earlier, this pose is a simple posture without complex alignment issues, but it can provide a unique challenge with a multitude of plank benefits.
Benefits Of The Pose:
Plank Pose is well known for strengthening the core. However, this posture offers far more benefits reaching throughout the entire body. It would be safe to refer to the pose as a “full body posture” because of its wide range of health riches. In addition to strengthening the core, Plank also strengthens the back, neck, wrists, hands, arms and it can even help tighten the glutes or buttocks.
Our core is larger in size than most people are aware, and this pose can help all of it. The core includes the abdomen, lower back and chest. Strengthening these areas can improve endurance, and help prepare yoga students for more difficult postures. It’s also well established that a stronger core can help prevent back injuries and improve posture.
Stronger neck and spine muscles leads to a variety of benefits. Plank forces us to engage these muscles and it can help lead us to better posture and less back pain. Better posture on its own is a tremendous asset and is many times ignored by people who spend their days at a desk.
It’s suggested in Plank Pose that we also engage our glutes to help keep the pelvis bone from lowering and taking us out of alignment in the posture. When the buttocks are engaged it can help tighten and tone the butt which is something many of us desire.
Of course, we can’t forget about the arms and wrists. Both are made stronger while practicing Plank, especially during chaturanga or yogi pushups. However, just the simple holding of Plank can go far toward strengthening the arms, wrists and hands. Plank benefits are obviously significant and can be a major help in prepping you for more advanced postures and other strenuous exercises.
Strengthens The Spine
Strengthens The Wrists
Helps Tone The Glutes
Prep & Follow Up Poses:
There are numerous postures that could act as prep poses for Plank. Some of these could include Downward Facing Dog Pose, Mountain Pose, and as we mentioned, Plank is an important part of the Chaturanga transition.
Several yoga poses are common to follow Plank Pose. These postures could include Forearm Plank Pose, Side Plank Pose, Upward Plank and a few arm balances. Since Plank is a challenging endurance pose, it would also be perfectly normal to move into Child’s Pose.
Modifications & Cautions:
Avoid this pose if you have wrist, arm or shoulder injuries. Consult a doctor before practicing with injuries and always heal before hitting the mat.
Plank is also a good pose to avoid if you suffer from Carpal Tunnel.
This pose can be strenuous, so take your time and don’t try holding the posture beyond your limits.
You can simplify the pose by dropping your knees to the ground, this will reduce difficulty.
Some students may decide to challenge themselves by lifting one foot off the ground while holding this pose.
Sometimes a strap may be used by looping it around the upper arms while holding Plank, then press into the strap.
You may also try some other variations of Plank, such as Side Plank, Forearm Plank and Upward Plank.
Keep your shoulders aligned above your wrists.
Don’t allow your waist or pelvic area to drop toward the mat, keep your butt from dropping.
Your body and back should keep a straight line, straight and firm like a plank of wood.
Drop your knees to the mat if the full pose version is too difficult.
Don’t lock your elbows during the pose, keep them softer.
Don’t drop the head, keep a straight neck line that’s aligned with your spine.
Your hands should be shoulders width apart.
Rest after this posture if needed before moving forward with your practice.
We will start this pose in Table Top position on our hands and knees.
Align your wrists under your shoulders with your feet hips width apart.
Straighten your back with a flat spine while keeping your neck lengthened and looking between your hands.
Don’t allow your stomach to drop and engage your core and abs toward your spine.
Slowly step your feet backward keeping them hip width apart while keeping your body and spine in a firm straight line, like a plank of wood.
Don’t allow your hips to drop or sink and prevent your buttocks from moving upward, if either happens, realign your body and spine to a straight line.
Keep your fingers spread and pressing into the earth, don’t lock the elbows, allow for a micro bend if needed.
Focus on your breath.
Remember to engage your buttocks to help keep the pelvis from dropping toward the mat.
Hold the pose for a few breaths, as you progress you may be able to hold the posture for minutes rather than seconds.
When ready, slowly move back into Table Top position and then rest in Child’s Pose if needed.