Plank is one of the most important and fundamental poses of the yoga practice. You must understand it before attempting more advanced postures like a handstand. In theory, Plank seems relatively easy if you’re able to connect the dots and understand what came before it. Sadly, everyday I watch people end up with unnecessary wrist, shoulder and back pain due to misalignment.
So, what knowledge should you have prior to Plank? If you broke down the key components, it would be to pay attention to what the hands, knees, glutes, and low back are doing. All of these parts play critical roles in building the pose correctly. Keep reading for key alignment tips and watch the video here!
1. Come down to all fours and put yourself in Cat Pose. Notice where your gaze is in Cat—and keep it the same in Plank. Notice how the navel is pulled to the spine as you push the ground away to create Cat. Keep that action and remember it when you get ready to extend your legs.
2. Test out the hands by looking to make sure your thumb and index finger are not lifting. Your whole hand needs to be flat to the mat. I can’t tell you how many injuries happen because the hand is not firmly rooted here.
3. Transfer of weight needs to stay in the fingertips, not the heel of the hand. Test this out by lifting the heel of the hand enough to put a pencil underneath. This will feel impossible if you lost Cat pose and are not back in Cow. Check yourself!
4. Assuming the above steps are happening correctly, extend one leg back, followed by the other. Remember to lift your knee caps to your quads.
5. Engage your butt.
6. For extra credit, turn your toes under. Feel the engagement in the legs and around the pelvic floor.
So there you have it! Plank pose is the first time you are placing weight on your hands and extending the legs while involving the whole body. Remember to always extend from the center (your core). Get the glutes involved by engaging them. They are the stabilizers of the body after all!
JOURNEY WITH ELLA
EXPLORE AND CELEBRATE
TULUM Ten minutes from downtown Tulum. Fifteen minutes to beach by car or forty minutes by bike. Scooters are also available for rental.
November 16-23. Check in after 4pm on the 16th. Checkout by 11am on the 23rd.
7 night stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner is the only meal served on the first night and breakfast is the only meal served on the last day. Of course yoga with me will also be happening!
7am – 9am Breakfast Available
9:30am -11:30am Morning Practice
12pm – 1:30pm Lunch followed by Free Time!
5:30pm – 7pm Evening Practice
7:15pm -9:30pm Dinner
As of now, guests are responsible for booking their own travel to and from Cancun Airport, but this can change if a lot of you end up flying in and departing at the same time.
ROOMS AND PRICES:
(Click on a room below to view!)
Payment and Cancellation Policy:
A non-refundable deposit of $300 is required to hold your space. Payment in full is required by July 20, 2019.
In the event of cancellation, your entire payment will be refunded less the $300 deposit if cancellation is made by August 20, 2019. All payments are non-refundable after this date.
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Spring is here and the time for new beginnings is upon us. From a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective, living in harmony with nature is ideal for preventing disease and perpetuating optimum health. In this season, we move from a time of restoration and inactivity to one of rebirth and expansion—which is represented by the wood element. The key energetic organ systems for spring are the Liver and Gallbladder. These organs are essential for regulating numerous systems in the body, the smooth flow of Qi, as well as detoxifying the body. Due to the important role of storing and distributing the blood in TCM, the Liver and Gallbladder rule over the body’s tendons. The tendons get very little blood circulation— which means the slightest deviation in blood flow can affect them significantly.
Just as the leaves begin to grow and the trees sprout their buds, so, too, must we start to move our bodies. Not with a crazy push or bursts of energy, but with a gradual flow in order to activate, cleanse, and lubricate tissues as we revitalize them from the slumber of winter. Twists and binds can help massage the tissues to moisten and purge accumulated debris—similar to the way you would flush a dry rag with water and wring it out before using it.
As the body becomes more fluid and supple, the flow can increase and began to expand its boundaries. Just as rain showers flow through the trees and help form new growth, we can start moving the energy and shifting our bodies and minds to new heights. The color of spring is green—which keys you into the kinds of foods that can support your body in this season. Green foods such as broccoli, cabbage, wheat grass, kale and sprouts can help the liver function and support the smooth flow of Qi and blood. When the liver is not functioning properly and the flow of Qi is disrupted, we experience the rise of emotions such as anger, frustration and depression. The opposite is true as well; when these emotions are minimized, the liver again functions effectively. Movement is vital at this time to keep the mind relaxed and the Qi flowing.
Stoke your Inner Fire during the spring practice by bringing your body into balance through detox, fluidity and flow to maximize the potential for growth and expansion. Let this attention to your practice help active the energy of renewal, creativity and wellbeing during this season. If you’re recommitting to your practice, try 5 Days of Movement instead.
Bloom well Yogis!
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get students (and at times teachers) to understand the importance of lifting their kneecaps. Coming from a gymnastics background, you learn at a young age what functional anatomy feels like in your body—by virtue of an insane amount of repetitions. You understand that your practice must be built on a strong foundation. There’s no way you can flip on a tiny beam without paying attention to the little details—such as the role played by the feet and kneecaps. If you’re looking for longevity in your practice, correct approach and a strong foundation are key.
Last week, we focused on understanding foot placement. Once that understanding has occurred, we can then progress to kneecaps. The best thing to do is practice by yourself, as shown in the video.
Sit down on your butt with your legs extended forward. Lift your kneecaps up towards your quads. When done correctly, the heels of the feet lift off the floor and the quads are engaged. When done incorrectly, the feet don’t lift and the quads are soft.
Sometimes students find it hard to lift their kneecaps; it might take practice using the fore-mentioned technique. Unfortunately, students often misunderstand this cue and hyperextend their knees. A hyper-extension is when you “lock out” the knee by pushing it back rather than lifting it up. This is not healthy for the knee joint and doesn’t allow you to use the bigger muscle group (the quads).
If you suffer from hyper-extension or knee pain, you may find it helpful to put a little bend in your knee as you rebuild this part of the body.
Lifting your kneecaps is something that needs to be learned at the start of the practice in something like Mountain Pose—and it must continually be practiced and understood in poses such as Plank and Triangle. This way, as your practice progresses into balancing postures (such as Warrior III) and inversions (such as Handstands), you clearly understand the role played by the lower half of the body.
Have you ever noticed how you feel in different seasons? Both mentally and physically, we tend to respond to the environment around us. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on this concept. It’s rooted in the observation of nature and the unique dynamics to which nature adheres. No season is a more perfect example than winter.
During winter, the temperature is colder and the days are shorter. In response, nature slows down. Animals hibernate, plants and trees grow more slowly, elements become more dense and damp. Every living thing turns within to nurture itself.
In the theory of Yin and Yang common to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter reflects the utmost yin quality. In TCM, we’re taught to heed the environmental conditions in order to live in harmony with nature. Activity should slow, rests should be extended, and food should come from dense nutrients—perhaps stewed over extended periods of time.
The organ most correlated with this season is the kidney. The kidney houses the body’s original “Qi” (basis of energy). It also stores “essence,” which is the dense form that produces bone marrow and spinal fluid. This correlation makes it is easy to see why the kidney is so important to brain health and bone development in TCM. In addition to being the body’s primary source of yin, the kidneys serve as the “ming men fire” or “gate of vitality.” This gate lies deep between the two kidneys—opening their yang dimension. An equal representation of both yin and yang makes the kidneys truly unique.
The winter is a great time to support the kidney and its related functions. While good nutrition, hydration, and keeping the low back warm and protected during winter are all important, Yin Yoga is an excellent practice to support the kidneys physically.
Yin Yoga’s sustained holds stimulate tendon, ligament, and bone health. Its slow and prolonged movements are in harmony with winter’s yin character, while the active breath helps stoke the inner ming men fire to balance the kidney’s yang attributes.
In that light, Yoga for Relaxation would be the perfect addition to your winter regimen—and help keep you in harmony with life.