Plank (Phalakasana) is a great pose for upper body and core strengthening, helping to improve posture. It also lengthens the spine and helps strengthen the lower back muscles and engages the thighs as well. Plank also strengthens the wrists and hands, strengthens and lengthens the neck muscles and engages the gluteus muscles.
Cautions or contraindications: Carpel tunnel, osteoporosis, shoulders or back injuries.
Modifications: Table Pose (on hands and knees) or sliding the knees slightly farther back and dropping the hips a bit to form a diagonal line from the spine to the tailbone. You can also cup your hands a bit and put weight on finger tips if you have wrist or hand sensitivities, or come onto the forearms.
- Come into table pose to start, hands under shoulders, knees hip-width apart. Spread your fingers out and press through your forearms and hands.
- Inhale as you gaze down between your hands, lengthening the neck muscles and tighten your abdominal muscles.
- Curl the toes under and while engaging the core, exhale as you lift up the knees, stepping the feet back so that you are in one straight light, shoulders are over the wrists and weight is on all ten toes.
- Try to keep the core engaged as you breathe in and out, making sure the hips stay in alignment and do not sink down. Press your heels toward the wall behind you and keep the shoulder blades in toward the spine.
- Stay in plank for as long as feels comfortable, continuing to breathe, keeping the core and glutes tight.
- To come out, slowly lower the knees back down to the mat and sink back into the heels (knees can be separated a bit) into child’s pose.