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Plank Pose in Yoga, a very common pose that we see in other training too. It's an excellent pose to discover and improve the strength of muscles on the belly.



I don't think Plank pose is an original Yoga pose. You can still find its Sanskrit name somewhere on the Internet, but I think Plank (and also High Lunge) are originated in other forms of exercise. To me, Plank is the modification of the original Chaturanga Dandasana. If you look at the Ashtanga Series, you will see no Plank, only Chaturanga Dandasana. Chaturanga is a hard Yoga pose that requires the strength of the whole body and strong connection between the upper and lower body. Perhaps Plank is a good step to Chaturanga.


In Plank pose, just like its name, the whole body is strong, as hard as a wooden plank. We are almost horizontal in Plank, so the whole body will have to fight against gravity, which strengthens the whole body and especially in the abdomens. To someone who is new to Yoga, and not used to holding weight with their arms, holding Plank pose is a challenge.


As a Yoga beginner, you can do Plank with your knees on the floor. This pose is called Half Plank. It's different from Table Pose. We don't flex the hips in Half Plank pose but maintain one straight line from our knees to our head. From Half Plank, we can also do Half Chaturanga - also a great modification for Yoga newbies.



If you have wrist pain in Plank pose, try holding the edge of the blocks like I'm doing in the picture below. Preferable hard blocks such as cork or wooden blocks. Or instead of pressing the palms down, do Plank pose on your knuckles. By making the fists, you are not putting weight on extended wrists.



If neither of the above helps, try Forearm Plank instead!



FOREARM PLANK OR LOW PLANK



Try the pose on two blocks, in this case, I would prefer styrofoam blocks so that it's softer. Now your Plank pose is as high as a normal Plank pose but without putting stress into your wrists. You can even try moving to Down Dog from here. With the blocks, your elbows and forearm bones don't crush on the floor but on pretty soft Yoga blocks.


This was a way to do Plank and Down Dog that I introduced to some students when they have problems in wrist joints, but still want to do Yoga. The class I give them is mostly standing Yoga poses and balance on one leg, very few Vinyasa Flow, and by doing Forearm, they can do and benefit from most of the class.



An option is to clasp your hands like in Dolphin Pose. And just like in Plank pose, we can bring the knees down to the floor to make it an easier pose for Yoga beginners.



So you can see that Forearm Plank is a great substitution for Plank to people who have wrist pain and problems. When you put your forearms on the floor, they are not used to bearing body weight, the muscles are not strong enough to hold, therefore the shoulders tend to collaps and the elbows slide away from each other. We need to ¨hug the elbows in¨, which is an easier way to understand ¨shoulder external rotation¨.


As a Yoga teacher, I encourage everyone to find and do this action on their own. However, to many Yoga beginners, to make them feel it, I use strap to loop around their upper arms. The strap should be just a bit more narrow than the shoulders to keep the forearms parallel to each other.



Then as you move on your Yoga practice, you will not need the strap any more to find shoulder joint stability.

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Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Shoulder Stand and Plow Pose in Yoga share a similar foundation: Holding body weight on the shoulders with deep flexion in the neck (cervical spine).



In Shoulder Stand, I also choose to use a blanket to elevate and support my shoulders, so that my body weight will not press down to my neck. The blanket also give more spaces and elevation so that I can hold a straighter Shoulder Stand.


You can see how the shoulder foundation is the same as in Plow Pose (Halasana) so we can choose to interlace hands and press arms down to the floor (above) or use hands to support at the back (below).



One interesting way, but a bit complicated in preparation, is to use a strap to wrap around the upper arms, right above the elbows. Make the loop smaller than the shoulders. The strap keeps the elbows hugging towards each other and not going away from each other. This is a temporary way to prop Shoulder Stand up, when you are new to Yoga and haven't got the control and strength to draw your shoulder blades together (retraction) and extend your shoulders, or in other words, ¨hug your elbows towards each other¨.


An awesome way to do Shoulder Stand: do it with the wall.



  • Start with your back on the floor, with your toes pointing towards the wall

  • Bend knees and put the feet on the floor like in Bridge pose. Keep the toes close or even touch the wall.

  • Start walking the feet on the wall and push to raise the hips up and above the shoulders. Now, it's Shoulder Stand. Choose a position for your arms.

  • You can choose to straighten one or both knees to do full Shoulder Stand, or stay on the wall and pay more attention to your shoulders position.


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Thank you for reading! More about how to Prop Up Inversions in Yoga:


See how I use basic Yoga props to do ANY Yoga poses in my Prop Up Project:

  1. Grounding Poses in Yoga

  2. Yoga Poses in the Sun Salutations

  3. Basic Standing Poses

  4. Standing Balance Poses

  5. Core Yoga Poses

  6. Backbends in Yoga

  7. Twists in Yoga

  8. Forward Bends in Yoga

  9. Arm Balance in Yoga

  10. Inversion in Yoga


Prop Up Project from Ha My Yoga to help you do more than 80 Yoga poses easier and more effectively with simple Yoga props like block, strap, wall, blanket, bolster, etc. So you can really enjoy doing Yoga!


Do you find the post helpful? Share to your social media!


Updated: Feb 29, 2020

In Sanskrit, the name of Handstand is Adho Mukha Vrkasana, translated word by word into Downward Facing Tree Pose. This pose is an Arm Balance and Inversion, a very fun and good looking pose that most people would love to try sometimes on their Yoga journey.



Handstand, when done with the support of a wall, is safe, but still challenging and exciting. I myself can't hold a handstand on my own, so I practice Handstand with the wall, very stable and trustworthy support. In the photo: Dzung, my Yogi friend in Hanoi performing Handstand.



L - SHAPED HANDSTAND



Start in with your hands and feet on the floor, something like in a Downward Facing Dog pose, with your head looking away from the wall. Start walking your feet on the wall. Push into your feet to push your hips away from the wall and put your hips right on the top of your shoulders.


It's very good to do the pose next to a mirror, so you can check your shape in the mirror. Notice if your spine is in a backbend. If so, flex your spine a bit to make a letter L shape. You can stay here, it's already a lot of weight on your arms, and an Inversion. If you want more, take one leg from the wall and raise it straight to the sky.



From L shaped Handstand, you can continue walking your feet higher on the wall and at the same time walking your hands closer towards the wall to make the pose straighter. Now, you look more and more like in a complete Handstand. A lot of weight is on your arms now and especially, you feel heavier and heavier on your fingertips. If you want to try it, one leg away from the wall.


This way of doing Handstand is totally safe, you can not fall, no scary jumping or kicking. Very stable and safe, this is also an excellent strength training Yoga pose to build up strength and awareness in Inversion.


Try it at home!



JUMP / KICK TO HANDSTAND: USE MOMENTUM


In this version, you will practice kicking or jumping to Handstand, using momentum. Now we start with hands and feet on the floor in a Downward Facing Dog pose, but with your head facing towards the wall. Stand pretty close to the wall so that when you kick, your feet can reach the wall at some point. If possible, ask for a Yoga teacher or a Yogi friend to wait at the wall to support holding you AT YOUR HIP. Don't hold the legs, because if you panic, you won't be able to bring your legs down and get out of the pose.



From Down Dog, raise one leg up. The other leg on the floor: point toes and bend knees to make it a jumping spring. Jump several times to reach higher. Maybe you can touch one leg to the wall.


Or you can jump with both legs up at the same time. When you reach the right height, your hip with touch and rest on the wall. You can straighten your legs and rest both legs on the wall.


Bend your knees to touch the toes to the wall and push your hip away from the wall. Now, it's more like a complete Handstand. You can raise one leg up to feel it even more.


I describe these two ways: L shape and Kick Jump in more detail in the Prop Up post about Forearm Stand.


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Thank you for reading! More about how to Prop Up Inversions in Yoga:


See how I use basic Yoga props to do ANY Yoga poses in my Prop Up Project:

  1. Grounding Poses in Yoga

  2. Yoga Poses in the Sun Salutations

  3. Basic Standing Poses

  4. Standing Balance Poses

  5. Core Yoga Poses

  6. Backbends in Yoga

  7. Twists in Yoga

  8. Forward Bends in Yoga

  9. Arm Balance in Yoga

  10. Inversion in Yoga


Prop Up Project from Ha My Yoga to help you do more than 80 Yoga poses easier and more effectively with simple Yoga props like block, strap, wall, blanket, bolster, etc. So you can really enjoy doing Yoga!


Do you find the post helpful? Share to your social media!


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Ha-My Le, RYT500 Vinyasa Yoga teacher

Tel. +46 76 401 46 26

Email to hamyyoga@gmail.com

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