*Strengthens core muscles, biceps, triceps, deltoids, chest and leg muscles
*Strengthens the wrists and hands, strengthens and lengthens the neck muscles, strengthens the spinal muscles (spinal extensors) which improves posture
Last year on one of the many televised awards programs, Cher, at age of 70, was on stage and shared with the world that she can hold a plank for 5 minutes! Planks are always held in my yoga classes, but typically not longer than 30 seconds. However, I have several students that have been working on planks, and with proper alignment, have found it much easier to hold them longer and slowly working their way up to 1 to 2 minutes. Here are some alignment tips to help your plank:
Place hands shoulder width apart and wrists under shoulders.
Press palms into mat, spread fingers wide, and keep elbows soft.
Keep space between the shoulder blades wide and pull them down the back away from the ears.
Stay broad and open across the chest and lengthen through the crown of the head, keeping it forward.
Feet hip width apart, ankles flexed and on balls of feet.
Engage the legs by activating quadriceps, pressing the tops of the thighs up and pushing back through the heels.
Engage the core by drawing abdominals up and in. Do not allow hips and butt to sag or drop. The body should be in one straight line, from shoulders to heels.
Breathe, keeping the breath in the chest, not belly.
To deepen the pose, lift one leg at a time. Hold the lifted leg for five breaths. Repeat with the opposite leg for the same amount of time.