Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana) - SharpMuscle
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The Plank Pose, also known as Kumbhakasana, strengthens the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and obliques, and also strengthens the muscles of the upper body, including the arms, shoulders, and chest.

Information

Known as:Plank Pose, Kumbhakasana, Phalakasana
Sanskrit name:कुंभकासन
IAST:Kumbhakāsana
Pronunciation:koom-bhuh-kah-suh-nuh
Type:Core, upper body strength
Level:Beginner
Focus:Core, arms, wrists
Total time:10 to 60 seconds or more
Drishti:Forward;
Nasagre (Tip of the nose)
Chakra:Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus)
Indications:Digestion, core, arms, shoulders, wrists, abdominals, obliques, lower back muscles, endurance, willpower, posture, balance, stability
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Seated Forward Fold Pose (Paschimottanasana), Standing Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana)
Preparatory poses:Cat Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana), High Plank Pose (Phalakasana), Forearm Plank Pose (Dolphin Plank Pose), Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)
Follow-up poses:Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana), Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Boat Pose (Navasana), Crow Pose (Bakasana)
Contraindications:Carpal tunnel syndrome, High blood pressure, Wrist injuries, Shoulder injuries, Lower back pain, Pregnancy

Meaning

The “kumbhakasana” is a Sanskrit term that comes from the two Sanskrit words — Kumbhak + Asana:

  1. Kumbhak” = “breath retention”
  2. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

So, Kumbhakasana is a pose that involves holding the breath and maintaining a steady posture.

Benefits of Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)

Regular practicing of this pose provides numbers of physical and mental benefits, which are listed below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Strengthens the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques
  • Builds upper body strength, by strengthening the upper body muscles, including the arms, shoulders, and chest
  • Improves posture by strengthening the muscles of the back and shoulders and encouraging a neutral spine
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Boosts metabolism by increasing muscle mass and improving circulation
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Mental Benefits:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety by promoting deep breathing and relaxation
  • Increases focus and concentration
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Releases endorphins, which can help boost mood and promote feelings of well-being

Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana) Practice Guide

In this yoga pose, your body is held in a straight line, with the weight balanced on your hands and toes. The muscles of your arms, shoulders, and core must engage to maintain this position, while the legs are strengthened by holding them up off the ground.

Plank Pose is often used as a foundation for other yoga poses, such as arm balancing poses and inversions, and can be practiced by all levels yogis of to build the strength, stability, and endurance.

Step-by-Step instructions

  1. Begin by assuming a kneeling position, with your hands resting on your thighs.
  2. Lean forward and place your hands on the floor in front of you, lifting your buttocks to adopt the cat position while keeping your knees on the ground.
  3. Slide both feet backwards and raise your knees off the ground, supporting your body weight with your palms and toes.
  4. Inhale and hold your breath while holding the pose, or if breath retention is challenging, breathe slowly and lightly in the final position. Maintain the posture for as long as you feel comfortable, as the longer you stay in this position, the more you can develop your strength and stamina.
  5. In the final pose, ensure that your head, trunk, back, and legs form a straight line. Keep your arms and legs straight, avoiding bending the elbows or knees.
  6. To release the pose, bend your knees and lower them to the floor. Return to the initial kneeling position.

Tips

The following are tips for practicing plank pose, so you can practice this yoga pose safely and effectively and enjoy its benefits:

  1. Engage the core: Keep your abs engaged throughout the pose to support your lower back and prevent sagging or arching.
  2. Spread the fingers: Distribute your weight evenly through your palms by spreading your fingers wide and pressing down through all parts of your hands.
  3. Lengthen the spine: Lengthen the spine by reaching the crown of the head forward and heels back to maintain a straight line from the top of the head to your heels.
  4. Keep the shoulders away from your ears: Avoid shrugging your shoulders up towards your ears, instead, keep them relaxed and pulled down away from the ears.
  5. Breathe: Breathe slowly and progressively throughout the post, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
  6. Start with modifications: If you are new to Plank Pose, start with the knees on the ground until you build up the strength and stability to hold the full pose.
  7. Practice regularly: Plank Pose is a great pose to practice regularly to build strength and stability in the arms, shoulders, and core. Aim to hold the pose for at least 30 seconds, gradually building up to longer holds as your strength improves.
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Common mistakes

The common mistakes are explained below to watch out for when practicing Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana). However, paying attention to the common mistakes and focusing on proper alignment and engagement of the muscles, you can safely and effectively practice this yoga pose and enjoy the many benefits it has to offer.

  1. Sagging or arching the lower back: This might place strain on the lumbar spine, resulting in lower back discomfort. Maintain a straight line from the top of your head to your heels by engaging your core and keeping your hips in line with your shoulders.
  2. Dropping the head or lifting the chin: Keep your gaze focused on the ground a few inches in front of your hands to maintain a neutral neck position.
  3. Shrugging the shoulders: Keep the shoulders relaxed and pulled down away from the ears to avoid unnecessary tension in the upper body.
  4. Bending the elbows or knees: Keep the arms and legs straight and engaged throughout the pose to work the muscles of the upper body and core.
  5. Holding the breath: Remember to breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose. Holding the breath can increase tension in the body and make the pose more difficult to hold.
  6. Not distributing the weight evenly through the hands: Spread your fingers wide and press down through all parts of your hands to distribute your weight evenly and protect your wrists.

Modifications and variations

The modifications and variations of Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana) are explained below, only practice with variations that feel comfortable and safe for you. However, the modifying or varying the pose can help you to build strength and endurance gradually over time, and it also provides a fun challenge to your practice.

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Modifications:

  1. Knee-supported plank: Start in a high push-up position with the knees on the ground to make the pose easier.
  2. Forearm plank: Instead of balancing on your hands, you can lower down onto your forearms, keeping the elbows directly under the shoulders.
  3. Feet wider apart: You can widen your feet to create a more stable base.

Variations:

  1. Side plank: From plank pose, lift one hand off the ground and rotate your body to the side, balancing on one arm with the legs stacked or staggered.
  2. Chaturanga dandasana: From plank pose, lower the body halfway down towards the floor, keeping the elbows close to the ribs.
  3. One-legged plank: From plank pose, lift one leg up off the ground and hold for several breaths before switching sides.
  4. Plank jacks: From plank pose, jump your feet apart and then back together, engaging the core to maintain stability.

Precautions and contraindications

Like other poses, this yoga pose has also precautions and contraindications, by keeping its precautions and contraindications in mind you can practice Plank Pose safely and avoid any discomfort or injury.

However, the precautions and contraindications of this yoga pose are explained below:

  1. Wrist injuries: Plank Pose can put a lot of pressure on the wrists, so if you have any wrist injuries or pain, you should be cautious when practicing this pose. You can modify the pose by practicing on your forearms instead of your hands, or by using yoga blocks to support your wrists.
  2. Shoulder injuries: This yoga asana can also put stress on the shoulders, so if you have any shoulder injuries or pain, you should be careful when practicing this pose. You can modify the pose by practicing on your forearms or by placing your hands on yoga blocks to reduce the pressure on your shoulders.
  3. Lower back pain: Individuals with lower back pain should be careful when practicing this yoga asana. They can modify the pose by practicing on their knees or by placing a blanket under their hips to support the lower back.
  4. High blood pressure: People with high blood pressure should be cautious when practicing Kumbhakasana, as this yoga pose can cause an increase in blood pressure. They can modify the pose by practicing on their knees or by practicing with the head and heart at the same level, such as in tabletop pose.
  5. Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, you should be cautious when practicing this pose. You can modify the pose by practicing on your knees or by placing a block under your chest to support your belly.
  6. Carpal tunnel syndrome: If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you should be cautious when practicing Kumbhakasana. You can modify the pose by practicing on your forearms or by placing your hands on yoga blocks to reduce the pressure on your wrists.

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