Plank for strength -
One of my most favorite ways to build strength is playing in plank poses. “Playing" is the key word. Some days it’s more of a love-hate relationship. When students ask about building muscle and getting strong, I always turn to the basics; plank for strength. High planks, low planks, side planks, forearm planks, dancing planks, or anything we can come up with where our hands and feet are planted making the shape of a wooden board.
Starting in downward-facing dog, push your toes forward as you inhale into a high push-up position. The palms are planted shoulder-width and the fingertips grip the earth so much so that your knuckles may turn white, the center of your palm may lift, force it back down - this will help the wrists. Feet stay hip-width distance, heels above toes, strong. Legs engaged, inner thighs rotating up toward the sky. Draw your shoulders down your back, so they take the crunch out of your neck. Lift your hips high, tuck the tailbone slightly and welcome your working midline! Hello, abs! Pause here for 10-15 breaths. This is your baseline for moving into many variations of plank.
Moving into one of my favorite asanas, chaturanga dandasana, also know as low push-up or low plank. Remembering your base in high plank, as you inhale, you’ll push forward onto to the tippiest of your tip-toes. As you exhale, you’ll hug your elbows in close the the sides of your body, keeping the shoulders drawn back, elbows above the wrists, with your hands likely planted just beneath your armpits. Keep the hips lifted, engaging the core to not scoop the low back. Every muscle is working in the posture. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Inhaling back to high plank and releasing into downward-facing dog. Option to repeat 10-15 reps of this yoga push-up, from high plank to low plank.
There are so many variations and different ways to explore and play. I like to think of these postures like a dance. From rounding the back to knee crunches to moving from side planks into leg lifts and reaching my heart forward and turning it up toward the sun. Taking it slow, staying with my breath, and exploring where my body is feeling, shaking, sweating, and strengthening. As we move our bodies, we are finding value in what works and what doesn’t. It’s about creating ourselves, on and off the mat. Explore every way, move everyday.
*you can read the original blog and see plank photos on lucyletsgo.com