Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours): Steps, Benefits and Contraindications

Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours) - SharpMuscle
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Crouching Panther Plank, also known as Suspended All Fours, strengthens and tones the arms, shoulders, chest, core muscles, including the abdominals and obliques.

Information

Known as:Crouching Panther Plank, Suspended All Fours,
Type:Arm balance
Level:Intermediate
Focus:Lower abs, left obliques, right obliques
Total time:10 seconds to 1 minute or longer
Drishti:Down towards the floor
Chakra:Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra), Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra), Swadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra), Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra)
Indications:Arms, shoulders, chest, core muscles, abdominals, obliques, strength, muscular endurance, functional fitness, proprioception, balance, stability, stress
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Preparatory poses:Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana), Plank Pose (Phalakasana), Low Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana), Plank with Knee-to-Elbow Variation, Cat Stretch (Marjariasana)
Follow-up poses:Cat Stretch (Marjariasana), Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana), Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Contraindications:Wrist or shoulder injuries, Lower back issues, High blood pressure, Pregnancy, Weak core or lack of stability

Benefits of Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours)

The Crouching Panther Plank Pose offers a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits, which are giving below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Core Strength: The asana targets and engages the core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and deep stabilizing muscles. Regular practice helps strengthen and tone the core, improving overall stability and posture.
  • Upper Body Strength: Holding the suspended position activates the muscles of the upper body, including the arms, shoulders, and chest. It helps build strength and endurance in these areas, enhancing functional fitness and supporting activities that require upper body strength.
  • Balance and Stability: Suspended All Fours Pose challenges your balance and stability as you hold the suspended position. By practicing this asana regularly, you can improve proprioception (awareness of your body in space) and develop better balance and stability.
  • Muscular Endurance: The sustained nature of the pose helps build muscular endurance, as you hold the position for an extended period. This can enhance your ability to perform physical activities for more extended periods without fatigue.
  • Core Integration: The pose encourages the integration of the core muscles with the rest of the body. This integration improves overall movement efficiency, coordination, and body awareness.

Mental and Emotional Benefits:

  • Focus and Mindfulness: Holding a challenging pose requires concentration and focus. It can help calm the mind and bring attention to the present moment, fostering mindfulness and reducing mental chatter.
  • Stress Relief: Engaging in physical activity, such as practicing yoga asanas, can help release endorphins and decrease stress levels. The concentration and mind-body connection in the asana contribute to a sense of relaxation and well-being.
  • Self-Confidence: As you build strength and stability in the pose over time, it can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. Achieving and progressing in challenging poses can give you a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.
  • Body Awareness: The pose enhances body awareness by requiring you to align your spine, engage your core, and distribute weight evenly. This increased awareness can carry over into daily life, promoting better posture, movement mechanics, and body alignment.
  • Emotional Resilience: Consistent practice of challenging poses like the Crouching Panther Plank Pose can develop mental and emotional resilience. It teaches you to persevere through discomfort and overcome physical and mental barriers, fostering a sense of resilience that extends beyond your yoga practice.
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Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours) Practice Guide

Remember to listen to your body and modify the asana as needed. If you feel any discomfort or agony, you can reduce the intensity by lowering the height at which your knees are raised off the floor or by minimising the time of the hold. It’s crucial to prioritize proper form and alignment to prevent strain or injury.

To perform the Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours) pose, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Start in a straight and square all-fours stance, positioning yourself on the floor on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, and your knees should be aligned with your hips. This is the starting position.
  2. Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel toward your spine. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
  3. Slowly raise your knees about 1 inch off the floor, keeping your weight evenly distributed between your hands and toes. This will engage your abdominal muscles and create a suspended position. Your hands and toes will be the only points of contact with the floor.
  4. Find balance and stability in this position. Ensure your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels, avoiding any sagging or rounding of the back. Your shoulders should be directly above your wrists.
  5. Hold this suspended all-fours position for the desired duration. Beginners can start with shorter holds, such as 10 to 15 seconds, gradually increasing the time as they gain strength and stability.
  6. As you maintain the pose, focus on breathing deeply and evenly. Inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen, and exhale through your mouth, allowing any tension to release.
  7. To release the pose, slowly lower your knees back down to the floor, returning to the starting position of the all-fours stance.

Common Mistakes

Practice Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours) with mindful and focus on proper form and alignment, you can maximize the benefits of the asana while minimizing the risk of injury.

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However, common mistakes of this yoga asana are explained below:

1. Sagging or rounding the back

This mistake often happens when the core muscles are not fully engaged or when there is a lack of body awareness. It can strain the lower back and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. To avoid this, focus on engaging your core muscles by pulling your navel toward your spine and maintaining a neutral spine throughout the pose. Imagine lengthening your tailbone toward your heels to help keep your back straight.

2. Allowing the shoulders to collapse or move forward

This mistake is usually a result of poor upper body strength or improper alignment. When the shoulders collapse or move forward, it can put excessive strain on the shoulders and wrists. To prevent this, ensure that your shoulders are directly above your wrists and actively engage your shoulder muscles to maintain stability. Imagine pressing the ground away from you to help keep your shoulders in the correct position.

3. Holding the breath or shallow breathing

Holding the breath or taking shallow breaths can restrict oxygen flow and limit the stability and endurance of the pose. It often occurs when there is a lack of focus or when the body is under stress. Remember to breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose. Inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen, and exhale through your mouth. This will help you stay relaxed and maintain better overall control.

4. Straining the wrists

This mistake is common when there is excessive pressure on the wrists, especially if they are not properly aligned. To avoid wrist strain, make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders, and spread your fingers wide for a stable base of support. Press firmly into your fingertips and distribute the weight evenly across your hands. If you have sensitive wrists, you can also try using yoga blocks or folding a towel underneath your palms to provide extra support.

5. Overarching or hyperextending the neck

This mistake often occurs when there is a lack of body awareness or when the focus is not on maintaining a neutral spine. Overarching or hyperextending the neck can strain the cervical spine and lead to discomfort. To prevent this, keep your gaze down toward the floor, allowing your neck to align with your spine. Avoid jutting your chin forward or tucking it too far into your chest.

Modifications and Variations

Modifications and variations allow you to adapt the pose to your current abilities, limitations, and goals. They can help you gradually progress, prevent injuries, and target specific muscle groups.

The modifications and variations of the Crouching Panther Plank (Suspended All Fours) pose are explaining below:

  • Knee Lifts: If raising the knees 1 inch off the floor is challenging, you can modify the pose by lifting the knees to a comfortable height that still engages the core muscles. Gradually work your way up to raising the knees higher as your strength and stability improve.
  • Forearm Support: For individuals with wrist discomfort or limited wrist mobility, you can perform the pose with your forearms on the floor instead of your hands. Place your forearms parallel to each other on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and lift your knees off the floor. This modification reduces the strain on the wrists while still engaging the core muscles.
  • Elevated Surface: Placing your hands or forearms on an elevated surface such as yoga blocks, a step, or a bench can decrease the intensity of the pose. This modification allows you to focus on stability and form while reducing the demand on the upper body.
  • Dynamic Variation: Instead of holding the suspended all-fours position statically, you can add movement to the pose. For example, you can alternate lifting one arm and the opposite leg off the ground, engaging the core and improving balance. This dynamic variation challenges stability, coordination, and muscular control.
  • Knee Taps: To target the obliques and hip muscles more specifically, you can modify the pose by tapping one knee to the side without resting it on the ground. Alternate sides and focus on maintaining a stable core and upper body throughout the movement.
  • Assisted Variation: If you’re still building strength or need additional support, you can use a resistance band or TRX straps. Attach the band or straps to a secure anchor point above you and loop them around your hands or forearms. The resistance provided by the band or straps will assist you in maintaining the suspended position, making it more accessible.
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Precautions and Contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are crucial considerations to ensure your safety and well-being when practicing the Crouching Panther Plank Pose. They help identify situations where modifications or avoiding the pose altogether may be necessary.

If you experience pain, discomfort, dizziness, or any other unusual symptoms during the pose, it’s crucial to stop. However, the precautions and contraindications of Suspended All Fours Pose are explaining below:

1. Wrist or shoulder injuries

If you have an existing wrist or shoulder injury, it’s essential to be cautious when performing the pose. Putting weight on injured or weak wrists or shoulders can exacerbate the condition and lead to further discomfort or injury. Consider modifying the pose by using forearm support or seek alternative exercises that don’t put excessive strain on the affected areas.

2. Lower back issues

Individuals with lower back pain, disc herniation, or spinal conditions should approach the pose with caution. Raising the knees off the floor without proper core engagement or with a compromised spine can increase stress on the lower back. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified yoga instructor to determine if modifications or alternative exercises are more suitable.

3. High blood pressure

The Crouching Panther Plank pose involves engaging the core muscles and holding a challenging position, which can cause an increase in blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular conditions, it’s recommended to approach the pose with caution and avoid excessive straining or breath holding. Modify the pose or choose alternative exercises that are gentler on the cardiovascular system.

4. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it’s crucial to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any new poses or exercises. The Crouching Panther Plank pose can put pressure on the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, which may not be suitable for all pregnant individuals. Modify the pose by keeping the knees on the floor or choose alternative exercises specifically designed for pregnancy.

5. Weak core or lack of stability

If you have a weak core or struggle with stability, it’s important to progress gradually with the Crouching Panther Plank pose. Start with modifications such as lifting the knees to a comfortable height or using forearm support. Building core strength and stability through targeted exercises will help prevent strain or injury.

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