So, recently I’ve seen a few of my yogis going straight from down dogs to upward facing dogs, and let me just start with YIKES. My Sweet Sugar Plums, this is why plank is an absolute must in any standard “Flow.” Some things are considered a sacred foundation within the yoga community; this is one of those things. Let me explain. When the body shifts from down dog to upward facing dog without a plank in between, all of your body weight makes an unhealthy shift towards your lower lumbar. The plank is used as a stabilizer to evenly distribute the weight throughout the core (the main protector of the spine) as you shift towards the mat. When you skip this step, you put your lower lumbar at risk for injury, a word no avid yogi wants to hear. Sure, maybe if you are fiddling around once or twice this is acceptable, but if you are an avid yogi or someone who sits and stands for extended periods of time (both of these actions provide constant compression for the lower lumbar) then this practice of skipping plank is dangerous. When you compromise on a plank, you compromise on your entire spinal health. So here are a few alignment tips for plank!
- Keep wrists aligned beneath the shoulder blades
- Actively press into fingertips (keeps your weight from sitting in the wrists)
- Actively push the mat away from you (so you can avoid collapsing your weight into the shoulder blades)
- Heels should be lifted towards the ceiling for a full extension of plank. For a modified version, draw yourself to the knees and press the big toes together as you raise the feet to the ceiling
- When slowly lowering yourself down, do so on an exhale and hug the elbows so tightly to the rib cage that they graze them as you lower
- Pinch the shoulder blades towards one another as you lower
- Chest arrives at the mat before the hips