Pain in your hips, or lower back? Try the Plank Pose

There are something like 2100 poses or variations of poses in yoga. And that doesn’t count the transitions between poses that can link them together into a more flowing vinyasa. This can be overwhelming to people new to practicing yoga!

So let's start with an easy, yet powerful pose. Plank pose is one of the foundational poses in yoga. It is the basis for many other poses in yoga, such as Crocodile Pose, arm balances like Peacock Pose, and even simple standing poses like Mountain Pose.
Crocodile Pose
Peacock Pose
Mountain Pose
You might remember the plank pose as the top portion of doing a pushup in gym class. The plank pose - when done correctly - does a lot of good things in the body. Without going into too much detail, it strengthens the core muscles, stabilizes the spine, helps with postural alignment, etc. And each of those things creates a positive feedback loop within the body that can positively effect balance, digestion, posture, and more.
To do the plank pose correctly, and without modification, you will start on the ground, in table pose. Table pose is done by kneeling on the ground (or on a stable surface, like your bed), and placing your hands directly under your shoulders. Shift your weight around until you have approximately 50% of your weight on your hands and 50% on your shins. Slightly clench your glutes, and tuck your belly button towards your spine - this will help support the weight of your torso, and align the spine in the process. As best you can rotate your elbow pits forward, which will help lock out the elbow joint, and allow your skeleton to support a portion of your weight, and not just your muscles and connective tissue.
Table Pose
Once you have this position down, extend one leg back, and then the other, putting your feet side-by-side and as close together as you can. Clench your glutes, and lightly pull your belly button towards your spine, and slightly tuck your chin. This is plank pose.
Try and hold the position - with good form - for as long as you can. Your goal - down the road, not right away - is to shoot for 1 to 2 minute holds.

Now, if you can’t support your weight for even a few seconds, there are a couple of modifications you can do, to get the benefits of of the pose without putting yourself at risk.

The first modification is for the wrists. A lot of people have really tight forearm flexors and sometimes arthritis in the wrists and thumbs. Putting you palms flat on a surface can cause some serious discomfort. You can modify this by making a fist and balancing your upper body on your knuckles, trading the compression point from the wrists to the knuckles. Kyanne is doing this modification in the picture to the left.
Another modification is, rather than start on the ground (or stable flat surface), you start working the position leaning against a wall or leaning on a counter, desk, or couch back. All the physical cues apply - clench your glutes, tuck your belly button, and chin. Hold this position until it gets easy, then move to a lower surface, and work your way down - over time - until you can perform the pose on the ground.

What do you think of the plank pose? Do you make any modifications when you perform this pose?

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