How To: Inverted PlankStart by sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Have your back tall and arms down by your sides in this seated mountain pose. Bring your arms behind you about 12 inches. The correct distance will place the wrists directly under the shoulders when you are fully expressing the pose. Make sure your fingers are full spread and your hands are completely plugged into the floor. Separate your hands the distance of your shoulders.
Lean back on your hands and slowly put weight on them. Breathe in, expand your chest and feel the shoulder blades come closer together on your back. Press equally into your hands and your heels. Slowly raise your hips off the floor, ultimately raising them until your body makes a clean line in front of your toes, up your legs through your torso, chest and head. Reaching that point will take diligent practice. Be sure not to over lift the hips or let them sag. If you're a beginner, you can keep your chin tucked into your chest and drop your head back, opening your throat as you progress.
Press equally and firmly through both heels. There is a slight internal rotation of the thighs which keeps your big toes connected to the ground. Elongate the top of your foot. In time--and with practice--you will extend the foot to have your toes touch the floor. Keep the line of energy strong up the legs. Press your hands down into the ground and fully extend your arms and elbows. This will strengthen your wrists, which should now be in a 90 degree angle. Continue to open the chest with your breath, expanding and lifting it. Keep your pelvis and low back neutral. Feel the torso and legs stretching away from each other.
Hold for several breaths and be conscious of areas of stress or strain. Your eyes can be open or closed.
Benefits of Inverted Plank PoseThe role of Inverted Plank is valuable. Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:
- Stabilized pelvis
- Strong buttocks, back, legs, arms and shoulders
- Improved oxygenation because an open chest and ribs allow for greater lung capacity
- Massaged the abdominal cavity
- Stimulated glands mentioned above
If this pose is too difficult for beginners, bend the knees to 90 degrees and support your lower body with both feet firmly into the floor. This variation is sometimes referred to as Inverted Table pose.
For the athlete, this Inverted Plank is a great pelvic stabilizer. Pelvic stabilization and suppleness decreases strain on the knees. More importantly, it is superior for building strength, stability and openness in the wrist joint. For most sports--from football to soccer to hockey--the risk of falling on a single hand is high. Athletes must have strong wrists in order to support their builds. If you do not practice wrist openers and weight bearing hand poses, the likelihood of you falling and damaging your wrist and hand are one hundred fold. The opening of the wrist joint is also beneficial for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Inverted Plank also extends the elbow joint. This is important because many athletes have developed bicep muscles, leaving the elbow with less range of motion. A lower range of motion will decrease power, especially for baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks, who rely on power in the throwing arm. Finally, Inverted Plank pose decreases the anterior tilt of a tight shoulder. Tight shoulders can decrease the range of motion and even start to torque the trunk out of alignment. A centered core is important to most athletes, including golfers.
Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely. If you have or have had:
- Shoulder pain or injury history
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body.
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen’s unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the Pace University baseball team; as well as many youth teams in a variety of sports. Visit her website at www.yogawithgwen.com