Everything To Know About Phalakasana – The Plank Pose

Phalakasana - Plank Pose
Image credits: Gaia

Plank is a basic stance in yoga for a variety of reasons. Each time you return to this grounding posture, you’ll strengthen your abdominals and develop strength in your arms and wrists. Additionally, you’ll strengthen the muscles that surround the spine, which will enhance your posture. Plank’s improved strength and stamina will prepare you for more difficult postures such as Boat Pose, Dolphin Pose, and Side Plank Pose.

The advantages of this position extend beyond the physical. Additionally, Plank Pose improves mental endurance and concentration. Maintaining the position as your arms begin to tremble serves as a strong reminder that you are capable of overcoming obstacles both on and off the mat.

Due to the fact that Plank Pose is a component of the Sun Salutation sequence, it’s easy to breeze through it during a vinyasa without paying attention to your alignment. Therefore, set aside some time in your practice to explore Plank on its own.

It might take some time to develop the strength enough to maintain a Plank Pose for much more than a breath, maybe two. Drop to your knees if you’re still developing core and arm strength. If the full articulation of the Plank Pose puts an excessive amount of strain on your wrists, the forearm variant of the pose may help alleviate the tension.

Benefits of Phalakasana

Phalakasana’s primary physical advantages include the following:

  • Legs are strengthened.
  • Wrists, biceps, forearms, and triceps are strengthened.
  • Contributes to the stabilization of the shoulder joints.
  • Tone the abdominal muscles (obliques, transverse abdominus, and rectus abdominus) and hips.
  • Strengthens the neck.
  • Consolidates the posterior chain (back muscles, butt, hamstrings).
  • Legs are strengthened.
  • Assists in posture correction.
  • Can aid in the relief of sciatica symptoms.
  • Enhances the strength and tone of your whole body.
  • Strengthens the core and improves general balance/stability.
  • Equips the body for further arm balances.
  • Strengthens the stabilizers of the scapula (shoulder blade), notably the serratus anterior.

Contraindications & Precautions

Phalakasana - Plank Pose
Image credits: Lessons

Bear in mind that although yoga is for everyone, not all positions are appropriate for everyone!

  • If your knees are prone to hyper extension, more care should be taken to stretch your hamstrings to safeguard them.
  • It is advisable to avoid this stance if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. A excellent option is the Forearm Plank.
  • Avoid overdoing it in this position if you have a wrist issue. You may want to consider using a yoga block to alleviate strain on your writs. Observe the Modifications section below.
  • Proceed with care if you have high or low blood pressure.
  • If you’ve had a shoulder issue, this posture may aggravate it, but it may also help you gain strength throughout the rehabilitation process.
  • If you’ve had a leg injury, you may choose to avoid this position or lower your knees to the ground to alleviate leg tension.

Steps to do Phalakasana or Plank Pose

  • Begin in Bharmanasana, also known as All Fours. Position your wrists under your shoulders, with the width of the center of your wrists equal to the width of your shoulders’ outside margins.
  • Your wrists should be perpendicular to the front border of your mat.
  • Step back with one leg, straighten it, curl your toes, and land on your toes and ball of the foot. Rep with the other leg.
  • Lift your heels over your ankles and your shoulders above your wrists. If necessary, extend or reduce your stance to achieve this alignment.
  • With your thumbs and index fingers, claw/grip the mat and maintain your index finger knuckle (where it enters your palm) rooted in the ground. It is OK if your middle knuckles rise — in fact, this is a sign of a very solid base. As with the inner edge, attempt to dig down through the outside edge of your wrists.
  • Extend your hands and broaden the space between your shoulder blades over your back. This may — and should — result in a little rounding of the upper back. However, it is a little amount, not a great deal.
  • Slightly tuck your tailbone and strengthen your abdomen (Uddiyana Bandha). Additionally, tone the muscles at the base of your pelvis (Mula Bandha).
  • Make a straight line with your body (not perpendicular to the ground, but straight) through your heels to your hips, shoulders, and back of your head.
  • This is known as Phalakasana.
  • To exit, either return to Adho Mukha Svanasana or bend your knees and return to Bharmanasana.

Adaptations & Modifications

Phalakasana - Plank Pose
Image credits: EL TIEMPO

To preserve your knees, extra care should be made to activate your hamstrings (the rear of your upper legs). Imagine bringing your heels up to your buttocks to work your hamstrings.

Moreover, excessive quadriceps (thigh muscles) engagement might drag you into hyperextension. By concentrating on your hamstrings, you may avoid this propensity.

Also, if you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome it is preferable to avoid this position. An excellent option is the Forearm Plank instead.

The directions for Forearm Plank are almost identical to those for Plank Pose, except that you lay your forearms on the mat instead of your hands. With your elbows tucked behind your shoulders, your forearms may do the following:

  • Put your hands flat on the floor and parallel to one another.
  • Alternatively, you may interlace your fingers in such a way that your forearms are angled.

Individuals suffering from wrist injury have the following options:

  • Avoid this position
  • Carry out Forearm Planks
  • Make use of a yoga wedge

To include a yoga wedge, put it over the top of your mat, the thick side towards the back. Place your palms on the yoga wedge with the heels and your fingers on the floor. Then, as directed in the Plank Stance step-by-step instructions above, complete the pose.

If you’ve had a leg injury, you may choose to abstain from the position entirely until the damage has healed.

Alternatively, try lowering your knees to the floor to alleviate leg tension. If bending your knees causes discomfort, tuck a folded yoga cloth under your knees.

If your legs turn outside or your baby toes rise off the ground and you are unable to stop them, insert a yoga block between your thighs to assist in activating and strengthening your adductor muscles (inner thighs).

If you feel as if your legs are not strong enough to provide support, you can support yourself against the wall. Setting the balls of your feet on the wall and tucking your toes into the baseboard (toes pushing into the ground). This might assist you in activating and strengthening your legs.

If your shoulder blades are protruding from your back, it is referred to as scapular winging. A prolapse of the shoulder blades is necessary for Plank Pose to stop your shoulder blades from riding away from your ribs. Prolapse is the action of separating the shoulder blades. They will spread out somewhat on your back, embrace the rear of your rib cage, or even slip slightly across the sides of your rib cage.

The primary muscle involved (though it is not the only one) is the serratus anterior, which I refer to as “the finger muscles on the side of your chest.” By pressing your hands into the floor and intentionally broadening your shoulder blades in Phalakasana, you may assist in strengthening the serratus anterior.

If you have the ability to effortlessly hyperextend your elbows, take caution not to overextend yourself in Plank Pose. It may give the posture the appearance of being simpler since part of the effort is being carried by your elbow joint rather than your muscles. However, this will not help you develop the arm strength necessary for this as well as many other positions.

To avoid hyperextension, bend your elbows slightly (almost imperceptibly) so that your biceps and triceps must struggle to keep you in the stance. While you’re strengthening your legs, you may want to do Phalakasana with your knees on the floor.

A Word of Advice for Beginners Attempting The Phalakasana

To assist in strengthening the arms in this position, wrap a strap over your upper arms, slightly above the elbows. Inner arms should be pushed out against this strap. Raise the inner arms from the origins of the index fingers to the shoulders, releasing the external arms from the shoulders to the floor.

Phalakasana - Plank Pose
Image credits: Shades of Yoga

A partner can assist you in gaining an understanding of how to elevate the upper thighs in this position. While still in the posture, have your partner wrap a strap over the highest thighs, just above the point where they connect to the pelvis and raise up. Against this lift, press your tailbone down and stretch your back thighs via your heels.

A Final Remark on the Plank Pose

The record holder for planking is 8 hours 15 minutes and 15 seconds. World champions, on the other hand, do a modified (and, in my opinion, simpler) version of Forearm Plank instead of Yoga Plank! What? Wimps.

Keep the world record in mind when your instructor instructs you to hold this stance for 30 seconds. Make no complaint and just do your best. Hopefully, they will not require you to hold it for more than 8 hours, but things might be worse!

FAQs About Phalakasana

What use does the plank stance serve?

It alleviates pressure on our spine and provides us with an upright, well-aligned body when walking, standing, or sitting. The plank posture works every muscle in your body, from your shoulder, neck, and back, all the way down to your pelvis, legs, and thighs. Eventually, this results in a powerful posture that instills confidence in your ability to walk tall and correct!

Is plank considered a yoga pose?

The plank posture is a fundamental yoga pose that provides a good full-body stretch. While settling into Plank Pose, beginners should be mindful of their breathing.

Is a two-minute plank sufficient?

A fit, strong man should be able to hold a plank position for two minutes.

How long should a beginner maintain a plank position?

Initially, strive for a 20-30 second plank. After a week of practice, when you feel comfortable, increase the duration to 40-50 seconds, repeat, and continue growing from there.

What happens if you do the plank daily?

By tightening your back, shoulder, chest, neck, and abdominal muscles, the planking exercise boosts your body posture. Every day, if you do the plank, your posture will improve and your back will be upright.

Conclusion

The Plank Pose is a classic yoga pose that you should practice if you want to increase flexibility and improve your back posture. To learn more about other yoga poses, keep reading Seema.