What’s the best way to plank? I think it’s important to realise that there are no rights or wrongs, but what is important is what FEELS better and what offers the most amount of benefit for the least amount of effort and stress….
I see a lot of planks where a bum is sticking up in the air and there is a big dip in the lower back. If it feels great, go for it, but to me, when your chest is sinking forward like this, it is difficult to breathe which makes it difficult to relax which makes it harder…. Also, sinking into the weakest part of your spine means that most people who arn’t naturally strong in the upper body or arms, will lose power simply because it makes the pose so much more challenging than it has to be. It also stresses the shoulder girdle, elbows and wrists (as well as quite possibly the lower back). It’s hard to feel calm when the body feels uncomfortable and the breath is inhibited so having your body in this position may also elicit an SNS response.
Weight distribution is important because you would never hold on to a plank of wood at one end – it weighs the same but it’s awkward and impossible to move. It’s also easier to carry something firm as opposed to a soft mattress that keeps bending in the middle.
The nicest, most comfortable and doable way to plank is to start from a cat pose and visualise moving your pubic bone towards your chin so your spine is long and straight with the upper back slightly rounded. Look down or slightly forward – not backwards (which can impinge the nerves in your lower back). Straighten one leg and push into the ball of that foot and then do the same on the other. Feel as if you are trying to move the belly button towards your hands. squeeze the armpits towards the midline, try not to lock out the elbows, and always relax the tummy as it will engage organically in this position. You should feel as if your abs are pushing forward slightly. This isolation of the rectus abs is called nauli in yoga physiology and it increases your physical strength and means you can breathe diaphragmatically (sending a message of rest and digest to the nervous system). It also means you feel far less pressure on your joints. In this position, your weight should be distributed evenly between the front, the back and the bottom and the top of the whole body. It’s easier to feel calm in this position because our sense of physical power increases dramatically.