Table of contents
- Happy Day 18 of our 30 Day Yoga Challenge – Phalakasana
- Sun Salutations Poses: Phalakasana (Plank)
- Today’s Positive Practice suggestion
- Phalakasana – Plank Pose
- Sun Salutations Flow Plank Variations
- More for Yoga Teachers
- Share your Practice
Happy Day 18 of our 30 Day Yoga Challenge – Phalakasana
Good morning Yogis! We are continuing our detailed breakdown of each of the poses in the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series. We are trying one of the most popular Yoga Asanas – Phalakasana
Sun Salutations Poses: Phalakasana (Plank)
Phalakasana (PA-la-KA-sa-na) or Plank is familiar from the viral social media craze a few years ago. This Asana / pose is important to perform correctly and frequently to help develop arm strength. I strongly recommend the Shoulder Loop method of performing this pose.
Today’s Positive Practice suggestion
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to again perform the traditional Asana series – Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series. We will do the full series three times on each side. Each round, we will try one of three different challenging variations of Plank with our three full repetitions. Since this pose is a challenge for me as well as other new Yogis who are working on building up arm strength, our focus will be back on Santosha (Contentment) and honoring and accepting where we are on our Asana journey. Jump to today’s variations!
Phalakasana – Plank Pose
How to do Phalakasana (Plank) with proper alignment from bottom to top
- Place and align feet
Feet – You will be balancing with a majority of weight on hands, but make sure to put a decent amount of weight in the balls of your feet for stability. I try to keep my feet about hip distance apart for more stability.
- Set and align legs, drop knees to mat if needed
Legs – It is more important to keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your knees, than to have straight legs. Try to keep your entire body straight. If not possible or if you feel unstable, bend your knees to the mat and reduce the body weight you are holding up.
- Notice and set hips and core
Hips – Your hips are the key to keeping your body straight from head to feet or knees. Perhaps lightly tighten your abdominal muscles to help keep your pelvis from drooping or sticking your booty out.
- Set arms and shoulders
Arms and Shoulders – This pose is great for building arm strength. Make sure your hands/wrists are directly below your shoulders, and arms are straight. Spread your fingers wide to help support your weight, keeping middle fingers pointing straight forward. You may want to gently claw fingers and cup palm. Make sure you are keeping shoulders away from your ears. I strongly recommend the Shoulder Loop method of performing this pose.
- Check your head and neck
Head and Neck – Look straight down or perhaps a bit ahead of you on your mat. Check where your ears are compared to your shoulders. Most of us keep our heads slightly forward. If you notice you are doing this, tuck your chin slightly and gently press back to bring your neck and ears into alignment with your shoulders.
Sun Salutations Flow Plank Variations
Plank Hold – Knees Down
The first round, come into Phalakasana / Plank with knees bent and resting on the mat, in the modified version. Now the hard part – hold your Phalakasana / Plank for 10 SECONDS. I know, this is a challenge! Therefore, ymay want to activate your abs to help support your weight. Next, lower yourself to the mat SLOWLY with, control keeping your elbows close to your torso, to continue on to Chaturanga Dandasana (4 Limbed Staff) or Ashtanga Namaskara (knees-chest-chin), and complete the Sun Salutation series on each side.
Plank Hold – Full Pose
Next, for the second round, either do another modified plank or if you are feeling strong, come into a full Plank for your 10 second holds. Make sure you keep your body in a straight line, and do not allow your hips to droop or raise up and break your straight line. If this is too challenging, allow your knees to drop to the mat and perform your 10 second holds in the modified Plank, and then complete the Sun Salutation series on each side.
Vasisthasana – Side Plank
The last round, we will try a side Plank on each side, rather than a 10 second hold. Come into Plank with your hands a bit in front of rather than directly under your shoulders. We will open to the right first.
Drop your left knee to the ground, and INHALE and open your body towards the right while raising your right arm to the sky/ceiling. You should be facing to the right side, supported on your left knee, left hand/arm, and right foot. If you are comfortable here and want a challenge, straighten your left leg so you are supported on just the outside of your foot and left hand/arm to come into the full expression of the pose. I typically hold my side plank for a breath or two, not a full 10 seconds. Finally, EXHALE down and back to center in plank or table top, and do another side plank opening to your left.
Come back to your center Plank and take a deep inhale. Then exhale down with control to Chaturanga Dandasana or knees-chest-chin, and complete the Sun Salutation series with side planks on each side.
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More for Yoga Teachers
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Please comment to share your experience or ask any questions! What did you think of this exercise? Which versions of Plank hold and Side Plank did you perform? Do you think you will add these arm strength exercises to your routine? Always remember, be kind!