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Yoga Basics and Alignment Plank Pose Variations

 This Post is a Supplement to the Plank Pose post from last week.  Please refer to the first post for initial instruction on plank pose alignment.You are going to love all of these fun variations because our fearless yogini leader, Ali Kamenova, LOVES, LOVES,  LOVES plank poses of all shapes and sizes and in all variations.  You will love all of these fun poses!   The first time you do a side plank with tree pose, move into a two arm plank with tree pose, to a chataranga (still holding tree pose), back to plank, another chataranga (Yep!…still in tree pose) , then to downward Facing Dog while still holding Tree Pose…you will stand up, say, “YIPPEE”, …you will  never ever again doubt that you can do the impossible. I tell you this from experience. If you study with Ali on a regular basis, she has a method for building on learning that will have you doing this pose before you know it!   You are going to love it!  I know you are ready so lets get started!

Plank Pose Variations

*Leg Lifts

After coming into a regular Plank Pose position, inhale and lift one leg parallel to the floor while evenly and firmly pressing strongly through the raised foot (your foot is flexed with the heel pushing toward the ceiling). Keep the head and neck relaxed while lengthening  through the crown of your head. Remember to keep the booty slightly tucked under to engage the abdominals. Hold for the count of 10 to start and then on the exhale drop your foot and repeat on the other side. Try to add 10 or so seconds to your time each time you practice this posture. Eventually you should be able to hold this posture for 30 seconds or longer.

* Forearm Plank Pose

Starting in Plank pose lower slowly onto your right forearm and then the left. Make sure your shoulders are directly over the elbows and that you have maintained your sturdy plank form (no bowing…no over arching the back). Your body should be arrow straight with the booty tucked under to engage your abdominals which protects your lower back and strengthen your abdominal muscles.  Make sure you are pressing the inner forearms and elbows firmly and evenly against the floor.  Keep your back relaxed (don’t squeeze your shoulders into the neck) and spread your collarbones away from the sternum. Breath and  keep the throat relaxed…one often holds the breath when the body feels taxed.  As in one-legged plank…press your heels toward the back of the room, look at the floor while keeping the neck relaxed.  After the hold, exhale and release the knees to the floor. You can reset in child’s pose for a few breaths.

*Side Plank

Starting in Plank Pose… shift onto the right hand and the outside edge of your right foot.
Now, stack your left  foot on top of the right. Slowly bring your left hand onto your left hip. You will be supporting the weight of your body on the outer right foot and right  hand. Before continuing, make sure your right hand is just slightly in front of the right shoulder forming a clean supportive line. Straighten the arm by evenly pressing the hand into the floor .  You body should not be tipping forward nor backward. The body should be forming a rainbow arc as you press your hips straight up toward the ceiling.  Now remove you hand from the left hip and reach it up in line with the right arm, fingers bright and active. You can keep your head in a relaxed position or you can gaze up at your left hand.
Stay in this position for 20-60 seconds, move back into Plank Pose and then repeat on the left side.

*Star Side Plank

The variation of side plank raises the top leg evenly with the floor. You can free raise the leg or,  bending  the top knee and bringing it in toward the body  grab the big toe  with the thumb and index finger. After grasping the toes you can stabilize a little better by holding the foots top pad with the hand.  With an inhalation, stretch the leg up toward the ceiling. Hold this posture for a few breaths and then moving in reverse,  release the foot , return to star plank, then to side plank, then to plank…Repeat on the other side.

*WILD THING!

Start in Downward-Facing Dog. Shift your weight onto your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot into a side plank.  On an inhalation, lift your hips . Stay strong in your right hand and actively press into all five fingers.  Don’t allow the shoulder of the planted arm  to bunch up…keep the arm long and strong.  On an exhalations, step your left foot back and place your toes on the floor with your knee partially bent.  Arch through your upper back and keep the shoulder blades relaxed, separated, and expansive.  On an inhalation lift your hips even higher… arching even more into a back bend while keeping your right foot solid on the ground.  Keep breathing and dip your head back while extending your left arm up and over your head.  Hold your Wild Thing  for 5-10 breaths  and  return to a one legged Down Dog.  Repeat on the other side.

*Tree Side Plank

Tree Side Plank begins in a regular Side Plank. Holding Side Plank bend the knee of the top leg and grab your ankle with your free hand. Guide your foot into a Tree Pose placing the foot as high on the inner thigh as possible. Spread the toes and press the foot firmly into the thigh. This will help you maintain tree as you shift into other postures. Remember to keep you body even and to arch your hips straight up.  Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling taking several breaths before returning to Plank. Repeat on the other side.

*Half  Lotus Plank

Follow the instructions for Tree Plank.  Instead of placing the foot on the inner thigh, you will drape the top of the foot over the front of the thigh with preasure in a half lotus and continue with the tree plank instructions.

Now we are getting to the fun stuff! Enjoy the work, enjoy the practice, Enjoy this beautiful life!…Namaste xoxo, Laura

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