Plank
PHALAKĀSANA (फलकासन)
(fuh-LUK-AHH-sah-nah)

 


‘Phalak’= plank, board, bench, slab, a flat surface, or guardian, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

High Plank
Forearm Plank
Breath Retention Pose
Phalankasana
Phalahakasana
Kumbhakasana
Santolanasana
Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Prone / Balance / Strength

1. Lay on your belly in prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana), with your legs close together and parallel, arms by your sides with your hands under your shoulders, palms down, and your forehead on the mat. Flex your feet and tuck your toes under to root down through the balls of your feet.
2. Keeping your arms perpendicular and your elbows hugging your sides, engage your upper back muscles, biceps, and core to push down through your palms, and up through your shoulders, to straighten your arms. Spread your fingers to root down into your palms. Be sure not to lock or hyperextend your elbows, and that your wrists are in line to each other.
3. At the same time, engage your core and leg muscles and push down through the balls of your feet, lengthening the heels backwards and up, to lift your legs and knees off the mat.
4. Gaze down, keeping your neck soft and long. Squeeze your glutes and bring your neck, back, hips, legs, ankles, and heels in line with the spine.
5. Your shoulders should be down and relaxed as you draw your shoulder blades together so that they are down and flat across your back. Open your chest and broaden your shoulders. Remember to keep your core engaged by pulling your navel to your spine.
6. Lengthen your spine from the crown of the head, down your back and legs, to your heels. There should be a slight incline from the heels to the crown of your head.
7. Hold for several breaths (at least 20 seconds to build strength) and then release back into prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana).

Common Adjustments
• Elbows pushed out away from the body
• Neck strained or head sagging / neck overarched or lifting gaze too high
• Shoulders hunched by the ears / Dropping or collapsing the chest
• Hips too high / too low
• Core not engaged / Upper back not engaged
• Pinching or compression in the lower back (lumbar)
• Middle of the back (thoracic) arched
• Legs too far apart
• All weight on the wrists / Elbows or knees locked

Modifications
• Beginners, students with carpal tunnel syndrome, or students that need to build strength in their core and upper back can practice this pose with either one knee to the floor or Half Plank (Ardha Phalakasana). Be sure that the knees stay in line with the pelvis but are not be under the pelvis. If students experience discomfort in their knees, place a bolster, folded mat, or folded blanket under their knees for support. They can also practice Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana) or Boat (Full) (Paripurna Navasana).
• Students with wrist injuries can either practice with their hands in fists, resting on their knuckles, or they can place a folded mat or blanket under their wrists to elevate and support them. Alternatively, they can practice with their forearms on the ground or on blocks.
• Students that need help gripping their feet to the mat can practice next to a wall so that they can place the soles of their feet and heels to the wall to prevent slipping.
• Pregnant students should practice Half Plank (Ardha Phalakasana).
• For advanced students who would like to build core strength, they can practice Wild Thing Pose (Camatkarasana), Low Plank (Chaturanga), or Four-Limbed Stick Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana). To build back, shoulder, and arm strength, they can practice with their legs on a chair.

Counter Poses
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
• Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) or Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
• Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
• Lord of the Fishes, Half (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
• Supine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
• Corpse (Savasana) or Reverse Corpse (Advasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Wrists• Biceps and Triceps
• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic), and Lower (Lumbar) Back• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques
• Gluteus Maximus and Medius• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Ankles and Feet

Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearm, wrists, back, abdomen, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, ankles, and feet.
• Lengthens the spine and helps correct posture and alignment which increases stability and balance. This also helps to reduce back pain.
• Improves concentration by focusing on balance, which also helps to reduce stress and mild anxiety while developing willpower, memory, confidence, and endurance.
• Improves the Respiratory System and the Circulatory System by opening the chest and breathing through the diaphragm, which is therapeutic for students with asthma.
• Therapeutic for students with insomnia, migraines, menopause discomfort, or osteoporosis.

Contraindications
1. Students with carpal tunnel syndrome or a severe wrist, arm, elbow, back, shoulder, or legs injuries should avoid this pose.
2. Students with low or high blood pressure, osteoporosis, back, wrist, arm, or shoulder injuries/discomfort should use caution in this pose and seek guidance.

Chakra
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbook

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana – Plank Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Chaturanga Dandasana – Four-Limbs Staff Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Chaturanga Dandasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 13 – ARM SUPPORT POSES as “CHATURANGA DANDASANA – Four-Limbed Stick Pose”.

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