Pose of the Month: Inverted Plank Pose
By Gwen Lawrence
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Inverted Plank pose is great for stabilization. Inverted Plank Pose stabilizes your body and bends your back. It is a great pose that affects several glands in your body, including your adrenals, thyroid and thymus. Doing this pose will stimulate your abdominal cavity organs as well as your diaphragm and breath.
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:
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
For the lay person or yogi, Inverted Plank is a powerful pose of purification since it stimulates the kidneys. Most people day to day are very forward. We have desk jobs, drive, and take care of little ones. It can leave us hunched forward for most of the day. We would all benefit from stretching, strengthening and lengthening our front body. In addition, strengthening the back body which becomes overstretched from our day-to-day grind is of great relief to the internal organs and abdominal integrity.
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
Modifications should be made for those with back, and neck issues.
Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body.