How to do it
Begin on your hands and knees. Curl the toes of your feet under and lift your knees off the ground. Bring your ankles, hips, shoulders and ears into alignment. Make sure that your shoulders are aligned over your wrists and your pelvis doesn’t “hang down”.
Breathing in Plank pose
Inhale: Lengthen along the spine and lift up on your shoulders.
Exhale: Hug your waist in toward the center, while keeping your arms and legs actively engaged.
NOTE: If your pelvis begins to sag, bring your knees down to the ground and correct your position from there. It is better to do this pose from your knees than to stress your back while attempting the full version of the pose.
Plank: Side stepping is useful for strengthening the abductors and adductors in both their stabilizing and moving roles. You will have to do this movement a little faster than usual, since you won’t be able to balance on one leg for too long when it’s moved out. Because of that, you will also need to keep an eye on the position of your pelvis – it will tend to tip sideways as you move your legs. Some tipping is natural and necessary, but excessive tipping might stress your sacroiliac joints.
Knee to shoulder
Plank: Knee to shoulder engages your rectus abdominis and hip flexor muscles in their contracting rather than stabilizing role. Lifting one leg off the ground also changes the base of the support, which means that the entire body has to work harder to maintain balance.
Knee to opposite shoulder
Plank: Knee to opposite shoulder engages your rectus abdominis, obliques and hip flexor muscles. It causes strong activation of the core not just for stabilization, but also for twisting the torso. Moving one leg back and forth changes the base of the support and the weight distribution, which means that the entire body has to work harder to maintain balance and alignment.
Knee over elbow
Plank: Knee over elbow activates the hip, particularly the hip flexors and hip abductors, while also increasing the challenge for your arms, shoulders and wrists. You can bend your elbows more or less, depending on how much weight your shoulders and arms can support. A more accessible version of the pose would be to simply pull one knee in the direction of the shoulder.
Plank + Down dog combo allows you to work your core, strengthen your shoulders and gradually stretch your hamstrings without straining them. It can also help deepen your breath as you move, and has a very meditative quality about it.
Plank: With chair is less challenging for the entire body, but can still be a useful tool for gradually strengthening the same areas as the full version of the pose. Make sure that your chair is stable and avoid staining your wrists. You can either hold on to the sides of the chair (so that your palms are facing in), or place your hands on the seat of the chair with your middle fingers pointing forward. Make sure that your wrists don’t bend more than 90 degrees.