What The Plank?: How to Hold a Perfect Plank Pose
Plank is a major transition and foundation in yoga and really just fitness in general. It’s not only amazing for developing core strength, it also helps to strengthen almost every muscle in your body, encourages body awareness and cultivates balance. Sounds good, right? But if you’re not sure what the correct alignment for plank is, you are not alone! This is one of the most common misalignments I see as a yoga teacher, and one of the most common questions I get asked.
When practicing with poor posture or incorrect alignment, we not only lose out on the full benefits of the pose, we also may be setting ourselves up for potential injury. Over time, this may lead to neck, low back, and wrist issues. But when performed with proper alignment and body awareness, plank is a kick-ass posture that makes you feel like a warrior!
So, what is the correct alignment for plank?
Plank, and any variation of, is one of my fave poses and a major go-to in almost every class I teach as well as in my personal practice. Now that we know ‘why’ correct alignment is so important, let’s talk about ‘what’ proper alignment is.
Let’s begin from table-top position:
From here, step both feet back coming into plank.
Now let’s take a closer look:
Begin by making sure of these structural alignments first;
- Gaze is down at the Earth slightly ahead
- Wrists stacked under the shoulders
- Palms are pressing into the Earth (don’t allow your palms to cup)
- Gently lengthen in your neck encouraging shoulders away from ears and down your spine (discouraging shoulders from slumping or rounding)
- Hip bones are squared and facing the Earth
- Body is a long strong straight line (not allowing hips to tent or swag)
- Legs are engaged and knee caps lifted
- Heels are stacked over toes/balls of feet
Now let’s look at the energetic imprint of Plank Pose:
- Breathing is slow and steady with equal inhalation and exhalation
- Sternum is lifted (discouraging shoulders from shrugging or rounding)
- Belly is drawn in toward spine-feel as if there’s an energy beneath your core supporting you
- Uddiyana and Mula Bandhas are engaged (these are physical and energetic lifts that help to protect the spine but also ‘lock’ Prana-life force energy-within the body)
- More to come on Bandhas (what, how, why) in a future post. Stay tuned!
That’s it! Simple steps to ensure that you’re on point in your plank! But remember, the moment you feel your form slacking, it’s time to come out of your plank. It’s more important to hold a proper aligned plank for a few breaths than a sloppy plank for a minute. Quality of time not quantity of time will build strength and balance.
Have great cue or tip to help hold a kick-ass plank? Share it with us here!