Plank Pose (Sanskrit: Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana)
Suggested Song to Practice With: “Old Pine” by Ben Howard (Everything Everything Remix)
What it is:
Increases strength in the arms and shoulders
Flexes the toes
Eases the mind when eyes are focused and relaxed
Encourages awareness of body alignment
Builds strength in the legs
Reduces back strain
Care with weak wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome
Pay attention to maintaining a straight line from the heels to the crown of the head
Draw the shoulders back so they are relaxed and not building tension
How to do it:
Begin in table-top position and place the palms flat on the mat.
Draw the shoulders forward towards the mat, up towards the ears, then down the back so that the chest is open and the shoulder blades are close together. This creates a harness for the back of the ribcage. Straighten the arms and press into the mat with the palms, hugging the fingertips to the floor so that every surface of the palm is active. Check to make sure that the wrists are directly under the shoulders.
Step the feet back so that the legs are straight and the toes and balls of the feet are pressing into the mat.
Check to make sure that there is a long, straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Engage the core, imagining that there is a link between the belly button and the spine.
Let the breath be even and relaxed. Gaze at a point on the mat between your hands. This will keep the back of your neck long and straight so as not to strain the muscles or vertebrae of the neck.
Either flow through a vinyasa, or lower yourself down and rest the side of your head on the mat. Digest the benefits of the pose.