Plank Pose often gets neglected as just a transitional pose, but how you set up in plank affects the poses that come after and it can also be a valuable pose all by itself. By finding proper alignment and engagement in plank, you strengthen the arms, shoulders, and core, and prepare the body for many other postures, including arm balances.
When you come into plank pose, you want to align your shoulders directly above your wrists so that the arms are perpendicular to the floor. The hands should be placed shoulder width apart and weight should be distributed across the entire palm, making sure to press into the first knuckle of the index finger. With the back of the neck long (the gaze should be down), draw the shoulder blades down the back and rotate them to the outside of the rib cage while at the same time staying wide across the collarbones. Stay firm in the core, tucking the tailbone slightly and making sure the low back stays long (don’t let the belly drop). At the same time, lengthen the legs so that the back of the knees lift up to the ceiling.
Tip: Setting up correctly in Plank pose sets up the hands and feet for Downward Dog. With the hands directly under the shoulders, the body nice and long, and the toes tucked under (about a 90 degree angle in the ankles), press back, lifting the hips up and back towards the feet. While shortening or lengthening this distance is appropriate for certain specific body mechanics and needs, for the majority of practitioners this provides the perfect distance between hands and feet for Downward Dog.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!