Say yes: Plank

Plank is one of the more popular cross-over exercises poses, and for good reason - several, actually. It is a good, if no one of the best core conditioning exercise. It also strengthens arms and lower back, tones buttocks, stretches hamstrings, and so much more.

It is one of those foundational poses you can do by itself, or as part of a sequence, like in Sun Salutations.

  • From downward facing dog, shift forward with straight arms till shoulders are in line with wrists.
  • Spread fingers wide, press thumb and index fingers on the floor to activate biceps and engage upper back muscles towards the sky.
  • Press front thighs up, lengthen tailbone toward heels, heels press away.
  • Draw navel in and up towards ribs.
  • Keep neck in line with spine by pointing back of head toward sky.
  • Gaze softly down at the floor.
  • Don't forget to breathe through it all.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Carpal tunnel/wrist problems

Say yes: Downward facing dog

Click on title for Yes and No in pictures

Downward facing dog (Sanskrit: Adho mukha svanasana) is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequences, but is also an excellent pose all on its own. It strengthens, lengthens, opens, energizes - just make sure you're doing it correctly!

Of course, nobody gets it (or any other pose) the first time. My left elbow used to hurt a lot when I was still starting out with my vinyasa practice. Then again, that meant I was dumping weight on my hands and elbows, which is an incorrect way of doing it. My downward dog may feel and look better now, but, that is after years of practice and guidance from my teachers. So, really, there are no shortcuts, just consistent and diligent practice.

When done correctly, this asana strengthens and lengthens arms and legs, opens shoulders, lengthens back, stretches hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet and hands, among other things. It may even be a resting pose - though I have yet to meet one who can "rest" in this.

  • start on all fours: arms shoulder-width apart, knees & feet hip-width apart
  • walk hands 1 to 2 inches away from you
  • tuck toes, straighten elbows and knees, and lift hips up
  • spread fingers out wide and ground through both hands (tip: ground though thumbs and forefingers)
  • externally rotate shoulders so they are away from ears
  • lengthen spine as hips continue to reach back, tailbone points up
  • zip navel in and up towards spine
  • shift weight toward heels, heels try to reach for the floor (heels may lift, depending on flexibility, or bend knees)
  • keep head between arms
  • gaze between feet or towards navel
  • keep a soft bend on the knees for protection

A better way of finding your ideal downward dog length is from plank position. Maybe next time, I can do a tutorial on that.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Carpal tunnel/wrist problems, high blood pressure, pregnancy, shoulder injury, eye or ear infection

DISCLAIMER: The exercises presented in this website are not suitable for everyone. Interested parties assume the risk of injury. The owner of this website disclaims any liabilities in connection with the exercise program and advice herein