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!