Low Plank

Low plank!  This is a call you will hear many times – maybe around 30 times in a power yoga class.  For some, it is greeted with enthusiasm – yes! Low plank!  For some it is greeted with reluctance – “I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m not strong enough.  I don’t want to”.  For all, it is an opportunity.  Low plank (chaturanga dandasana) is a very powerful pose with the opportunity to confer total body integrity and strength in you.  Here’s how:

  • Begin in plank pose. Set your hands just wider than shoulder width.  Align your shoulders on the same line as your wrists with vertical columns through your arms.
  • Spread your fingers and point your index fingers straight forwards. Use the spread of your hands like snow shoes compared to stiletto heels – diffuse your weight across the spread of your hands out to your fingertips rather than concentrating your weight intensely in pressure points at your wrists.
  • Set your feet hip-width apart (narrower than you might think at first) and press the heels of your feet back behind the line of the balls of your feet and your toes.
  • Create a single line through your legs, hips and spine to your shoulders and the crown of your head. Contract your thigh muscles firmly to the bone.  Rotate your inner thighs slightly inwards and upwards.
  • Draw the front of your pelvis up towards your navel and strongly engage the pit of your belly in towards your spine.
  • Expand your chest and upper back. Neither slump your spine between your shoulder blades nor excessively dome your spine upwards.  Maintain a neutral balance in your spine, chest, shoulders and upper back.
  • Elongate the back of your neck and extend the crown of your head towards the front end of your yoga mat. Gently draw your chin in towards your throat and gaze to the floor at a point at the midline of your mat about 20 – 30 cm forward of the line of your fingers.
High Plank pose
Hamish Kenworthy of Apollo Power Yoga in high plank pose – dandasana
  • To make the transition to low plank, lift your chin and set your gaze well forward in front of you.
  • Press your heels forward, high over the balls of your feet. This forward movement will shift your chest forward of the line of your fingers.
  • Bend your elbows to a 90° angle. Hold your elbows stacked over your wrists.  Draw your elbows alongside your ribs.  Do not tuck your elbows inwards under your ribs and hips.  Do not wing your elbows outwards away from your body.  Hold your elbows at the width of your wrists throughout plank, the transition into and during low plank.
Low Plank
Hamish Kenworthy of Apollo Power Yoga in low plank pose – chaturanga dandasana
  • Look at Hamish in low plank. Notice the orientation of his elbows relative to his wrists.  Check.   Notice the angle of his elbows.  Check.   Notice the alignment of his shoulders. Check.

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