Plank pose is where yoga can start to feel like a bit of a workout, depending on how long your teacher asks you to stay there, of course. It can strengthen the upper body, improve focus, or transition between poses during a yoga sequence.
Love it or hate it, you’re guaranteed to come across plank pose in your vinyasa yoga classes!
If you’re new to arm balances but would like to get started, try adding a few plank pose holds into your yoga sequences to build strength in the upper body.
“Plank pose is a great way to build strength and practice alignment,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “To ensure correct positioning, don’t be afraid to use props and modifications when you first get started.”
Sanskrit Name: Phalakasana
Pose Type: Arm Balance Yoga Poses, Core Yoga Poses, Strengthening Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Arms, shoulders, lower back, core, glutes
Benefits: This pose targets the core but targets the entire body. As well as increasing focus and upper body strength, it can also help to improve posture.
Preparatory Poses: Downward-facing dog, low lunge pose
How to Do Plank Pose Step-By-Step
- Start on your hands and knees at the front of your mat.
- Keep your wrists underneath your shoulders as you step both of your feet back to create a straight line between your hips and your heels.
- Push into your hands as though you’re trying to push your upper back away from the mat.
- Wrap the shoulder blades as though you’re trying to pull them apart from one another.
- Lift your hips and engage your core to stay lifted.
- Push your heels away.
- Gaze between your hands and breathe.
A common mistake people make when practicing plank pose is letting the upper body ‘sink’.
Avoid this by pushing your upper back towards the ceiling and bringing your shoulder blades apart.
Imagine that you’re trying to keep your entire back parallel with the floor to prevent your hips from sinking.
- Avoid this pose if you’re experiencing any injury or pain in the wrists.
- If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, avoid plank pose.
- If pregnant, you might like to bring your knees to the floor or avoid the pose completely.
Start on all fours and gradually walk your hands forwards until you have a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
For this variation, you can keep your shins and feet resting on the floor or bend the knees to bring the feet up towards the ceiling. To reduce the intensity of the pose again, place a block underneath each hand.