Plank Pose, or Phalakasana, is one you’re likely already familiar with. Plank is a basic asana seen outside of yoga as often as in a Sun Salutation. It’s beginner-friendly variations make it an excellent strength builder to prepare your muscles for more challenging positions that rely on upper body strength. 

Phalakasana, it’s Sanskrit name, is great for targeting the entire upper body if you know you want to tone more than one specific area. You’ll never get bored of Plank Pose when there are so many variations to keep it interesting: Side Plank Pose, Dolphin Plank, and One-Legged Plank are just a few of your options to work that upper body.

Benefits of Plank Pose

Phalakasana is ideal for increasing stamina in the triceps and shoulders, especially in women where the upper body tends to be weaker as power is more naturally found in their lower bodies. Men will certainly benefit from Plank Pose too by helping to strengthen the hip flexors. 

You'll love what Plank Pose can do for your abdomen, back, and chest – watch as your entire upper body becomes more toned with consistent practice. Plank Pose is also excellent for helping you prepare for more advanced yoga poses that rely on upper body strength such as Handstand, Crow, and Peacock.

Chakras involved in Plank Pose

Find your prana concentrated within the solar plexus chakra or Manipura as you hold yourself in Plank Pose. As you build your core, you are also building your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-love. Let the feeling of pride wash over your body. If you are needing a little boost in your self-esteem, taking to Phalakasana can help with that.

How to practise Phalakasana

1. To enter Phalakasana, begin in Standing Forward Fold. The feet and knees are pressed together and the upper body bends forward from the waist. Use this opportunity to plant your palms about shoulder-distance apart onto your yoga mat. Bend the legs as much as you need to allow the hands to come down all the way.

2. With your hands firmly on the ground, step one leg back so that it is straight. Allow the other leg to follow.

3. As you step back, your back body will naturally lower. Rearrange your posture so your feet are about hip-distance apart, your legs are almost totally straight behind you, and your tailbone is tilted forward. Imagine your back as straight as possible from the neck to the buttocks.

4. If necessary, fix your hands so they are directly under your shoulders. Keep your shoulders away from the ears by avoiding tension in the collarbone. Keep your elbows tucked in so they are pointing behind you and not out to the side.

5. Breathe into your plank. Allow the prana to shake the body. Find enjoyment in the warm energy circulating through your triceps, shoulders, chest, and abdomen.

6. To exit Phalakasana, you can lower the entire body in a controlled motion until you are lying on top of your yoga mat. You also have the option of letting the knees slowly drop to the floor and taking refuge in Child's Pose.

Tips for Beginners

1. If you're finding Plank Pose is a little too easy, check in with your posture. A slight adjustment can drastically change the position. Make sure your pelvis is tilted slightly forward and glutes are squeezed to concentrate your prana better throughout the core.

2. Spreading your legs wider will spread your weight, making your Phalakasana a little easier to hold. Bringing the legs together closer will make it more challenging and you'll have to rely on your stabilizing muscles to work harder to keep your balance.

3. If a full plank is too difficult for you to hold, try a half plank. Place a folded blanket under the knees (a thin cushion or knee pads are excellent substitutes, too) and come to your knees as opposed to balancing on your feet. The upper body will stay in the same position, but below the knees will be held in the air to reduce the amount of weight you're holding in Plank Pose.

Optional Props to help you practice Plank Pose

1. Squeeze a few yoga blocks (or stacks of books) under the body to help keep your plank elevated. A friend or instructor can help you by placing the blocks under your hips, chest, or thighs when you are in position. This will add extra support if you want to complete a full plank for a longer period of time.

2. Yoga blocks under the hands or feet will change where your weight is distributed, therefore changing where you'll receive the most benefits of your Phalakasana. Experiment with elevating Plank Pose by placing one block under each hand, or a stack of blocks under the feet.

3. If blocks are too precarious for you and you're really for an added challenge, consider placing a chair against the wall (to prevent the chair from slipping backward) and placing the hands or feet on the chair. Surprise your body to work those muscles a little harder.

When to Avoid the practise of Plank Pose

If staying in Plank Pose for an extended period of time, you may need to consider your wrist and shoulder health. If you have a history of pain or injury in the wrists or shoulders, you should consult with a medical professional before engaging in Phalakasana.

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