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Plank Pose (Phalakasana): Basics, Steps, Benefits & More

Among all yoga asanas, plank pose is perhaps one of the most widely used foundational poses. This may be due to its many good challenging physical benefits. This is a transitional pose that usually falls under beginner yoga poses and prepares your body for other more intensive and advanced yoga poses.

Plank Pose Basics

Sanskrit PronunciationPhalakasana
(fal-ack-AHS-anna)
MeaningPhalaka- “plank” “board” or “bench” and asana- “posture”
Pose TypeProne
Pose LevelBeginner-level posture
Style of yogaAshtanga
Other NamesHover exercise, front plank, Plank Pose, Phalakasana, Kumbhakasana, Santolasana.
StretchesThe Chest
Strengthening The shoulders, arms and back
Duration30 second to 3 minutes

Meaning

Plank Pose is also sometimes called ‘Top of the Push-up’, Phalakasana, Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana or Kumbhakhasana by many yoga teachers. True to its name, its body is in a plank-like shape, i.e. long and thin.

Since Phalakasana is an important part of Surya Namaskar and Vinyasa sequences and power yoga, it is normal for most disciplined yoga practitioners to have a love-hate relationship with this pose. After all, many people don’t really enjoy holding themselves in a particular push-up position for long periods of time.

With regular practice, one can find health benefits of plank pose that far outweigh its challenges physically. With this pose, you’ll build strength while toning the muscles of your core, chest, shoulders, thighs, and lower back. It can increase upper body stability, which will improve posture.

Breath Retention Hold in Plank Pose –

You might be wondering from its name whether you have to hold your breath during this pose. Well, the answer is yes and no. In the traditional practice of this pose, most yoga practitioners hold their breath for a period of time before bringing the upper body into a particular push-up position.

However, when you move through plank pose as a part of the Surya Namaskar sequence, you do not have to hold your breath. Surya Namaskar is considered to be the best practice that leads to longevity, good health and efficiency. It also strengthens every part of the body. Plank pose is the fourth step in this process, so it’s a pretty essential pose to become familiar with.

Practice Guide For Plank Pose

The practice guide to perform Plank Pose serves as a valuable resource for yoga enthusiasts seeking to advance their practice, offering a structured and detailed approach to mastering this asana.

Preparatory Poses

Steps to do Plank Yoga Pose

Step 1

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 a 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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

Look down between the hands in order to lengthen the neck’s back while taking extra care to keep the face and throat muscles soft.

Step 4

Draw shoulder blades toward the lower back. Now broaden the shoulders by spreading both of them away from the spine.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

Follow-up Poses

Benefits of Plank Pose in Yoga

Enhanced Balance and Stability: Performing Plank Pose requires you to balance your body on your hands (or forearms) and toes, engaging the abdominal muscles and lower back. This helps in improving your overall balance and stability, which is beneficial for other physical activities and daily tasks.

Core Strengthening: Plank Pose is excellent for building core strength. It engages all the major core muscles, including the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, and the lower back muscles. A strong core is essential for good posture and prevents back pain.

Improved Posture: Regular practice of Plank Pose can help in improving your posture. By strengthening your core, shoulders, and back, you’re more likely to sit and stand upright, reducing the strain on your spine.

Increased Flexibility: Although Plank Pose is primarily a strength-building exercise, it also helps in increasing the flexibility of posterior muscle groups. Stretching your shoulders, collarbone, and hamstrings, as well as the arches of your feet and toes, can lead to increased flexibility over time.

Reduced Back Pain: By strengthening the core, Plank Pose can help in reducing lower back pain. A stronger core takes the pressure off the lower back, alleviating pain and discomfort associated with weak core muscles.

Enhanced Coordination: As you balance in Plank Pose, you need to coordinate your breathing with your body’s movements and maintain the pose, which can enhance your overall coordination and body awareness.

Precautions

You should always have to maintain the correct posture for this asana, and you can modify it as deemed necessary. Following are the precautions and suggestions of Phalakasana.

  1. Do modify this pose for your comfort and skill level. 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 full plank pose variation in case you have carpal tunnel syndrome since it can more pain and stress on the wrists. Rather, you can modify this pose by resting the forearms on the ground instead of holding your body up with your hands.
  5. Don’t practice this pose in case you have osteoporosis as it can lead to an increase in the 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.

Conclusion

Plank Pose is one of the most popular asanas in many yoga styles. It includes many different types of yoga sequences, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Sun Salutation. In this way, Plank Pose is often a repetition of a series of asanas that increase heat in the body, help with sweating and strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine, and tones the abdomen.

Disclaimer

The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional