Wouldn’t you like to both tone as well as strengthen muscles in your core, chest, shoulders, thighs and lower back simultaneously? It may sound almost unheard of, but it is true. The plank pose is the ultimate strengthener of the shoulder, spine stretcher, core tightener and leg lifter. It is normal for most disciplined yoga practitioners to be in a love-hate relationship with this pose. After all, not more people actually enjoy holding themselves in a particular push-up position for quite a length of time. With the regular practice, one may find the health benefits of plank pose which outweigh its challenges, physically.
Shoulders are naturally mobile join which connects most of the torso’s muscles as well as ligaments. Due to their interconnectivity, they are more prone to various kinds of injuries than other joints in the body. So, it is vital to build the strength in the shoulders. It not only relieve tension but also improves the posture. It can increase the stability of upper body, hence helping to prevent various painful injuries like rotary cuff tears.
Kumbhakasana is the Sanskrit name of plank pose made of two Sanskrit words- kumbhaka which means breath retention and asana which means posture. You may be wondering from its name if you have to hold your breath during this pose. Well, it is yes and no answer. In the traditional practice of this pose, most yoga practitioners hold their breath for a small moment of time before lowering the upper body into a particular push-up position.
However, when you go through the plank pose as a part of Sun Salutation sequence, you don’t have to hold your breath. Sun Salutation is regarded as the best practice that leads to longevity, good health and efficiency. It also strengthens every part of the body. Plank pose is step four in this process, so it is quite an essential pose to get familiarized with it.
Steps to do plank pose
Stand off on your knees and hands in table pose. Now draw the torso forward until the shoulders are over the wrists and the entire body is in particular straight line, just like the push-up. Now extend the legs behind you and lift the knees off the ground while activating the core muscles.
Now support yourself by means of pressing firmly into the ground with hands and forearms. It can be quite helpful to spread the finger apart in order to better distribute body weight.
Look down between the hands in order to lengthen the neck’s back while takin extra care to keep the face and throat muscles soft.
Draw shoulder blades toward the lower back. Now broaden the shoulders by spreading both of them away from the spine.
Maintain the thighs and chest lifted as you keep on maintaining a straight line. If the bottoms start to stick in the air, realign the body such that shoulders are perfectly stacked above the wrists.
Hold this position for 20 to 25 seconds, the longer in case you can, then gently drop the knees and move back into the starting table pose.
Benefits of Plank Pose
Some of the major body benefits of practising this pose regularly are as following:
1. It provides similar health benefits, just like aerobic exercise.
2. It improves the cardio-respiratory fitness.
3. It helps in raising the endurance levels.
4. It prepares your body for more challenging poses involving arm balance, like side plan.
5. It tones the calves and thighs.
6. It improves body posture and strengthens the wrists.
7. It works different parts of the body which include core, lower back, chest, shoulders and forearms.
Precautions and Suggestions of Plank Pose
You should always have to maintain the correct posture for this asana, and you can modify it as it deemed necessary. Following are the precautions and suggestions of plan pose.
1. Do modify this pose for the comfort and skill level of yours. You can also try dolphin plank pose, meaning forearms to the ground rather than on your hands, or half plank pose, meaning knees on the ground.
2. Do learn the Sun Salutation for a better understanding of how this pose is part of this popular sequence.
3. Open the space between the shoulder blades in order to deepen this posture.
4. Don’t practice this pose’s full extension in case you have carpal tunnel syndrome since it places much stress on hands and the wrists. Rather, modify this posture by resting the forearms on the ground instead of holding your body up with the hands.
5. Don’t practice this pose in case you have osteoporosis as it can lead to increase of risk of fractures.
6. Never allow the chest to collapse to the ground, the proper posture is the major key to strengthen the core as well as back muscles.