PLANK POSE or KUMBHAKASANA is one of the quintessential yoga foundation poses. It teaches you to hold yourself together—like a sturdy wooden plank—giving you the power you need for the more demanding poses and the grace to glide with ease through transitions between poses in the Sun Salutation and other sequences. Plank will build your abdominal strength, strengthen your arms and keep your wrists supple and healthy. If you practice this pose, over time your upper back and neck posture will improve, and you will create support for your lower back as you learn to engage your abdominals.
- Start on all fours, with your wrists under your shoulders and wrist creases parallel to the front edge of your mat and your knees are directly under your hips.
- Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Gaze down between your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles towards your spine.
- Step one leg straight back, grounding all the toes; then step the other leg back. Do not allow your hips and butt to sag too low or poke too high – it is important to keep your body in one straight line, from shoulders to heel – like a plank!
- Reach your heels back and firm the legs. Lift your kneecaps and press the tops of your thighs up. Reach your tailbone back.
- Push your hands and all of your fingers steadily and evenly into your mat and straighten your arms.
- Keep your shoulders directly over your wrists and pull your shoulders down away from your ears, lengthening your neck. Then, draw your shoulder blades down your back and gently toward each other.
- Feel your breath move into your chest as it expands. Press your thighbones up and lengthen your tailbone back toward your heels, engaging your lower abdominals. Now, try to get longer. Reach the top of your sternum and the crown of your head forward toward the wall in front of you.
- Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for five breaths, letting your awareness grow and a sense of power suffuse your whole being.