Phalakasana: Plank Pose

HighPlank-AshleighSergeant

Phalakasana (fall-ack-AHS-anna), is an essential posture for a strong yoga practice. Holding plank pose will improve your endurance and muscle tone, help develop the strength needed for more complex poses, and generate heat and stimulating the navel chakra.

Philosophy + Origin

Hidden in the pose’s name is the Sanskrit word “phala,” which means to bear fruit or ripen. In yoga, the idea of tapas, often translated as “heat,” “passion,” or “discipline,” fuels the physical asana practice, encouraging students to seek out the challenge again and again in order to become stronger, to build an internal flame in the body that fuels every aspect of life. When you think of plank pose as an opportunity to “ripen” or “bear fruit,” you become aware of the transformative effect of this seemingly simple (although challenging) pose. Each time you enter the pose, use the breath to ripen the fruit of your labors. The ability to hold this pose with steadiness and grace is known to create major shifts in your practice and your life.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • For students with wrist pain, create fists with your hands and press your knuckles into the mat (palms facing each other) instead of placing hands flat on the floor. 
  • Place your knees to the floor.
  • Try lifting one foot off the floor at a time.
  • Flip your feet over and hold the pose on the tops of your feet to build ankle strength.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. From downward-facing dog, shift your torso forward to parallel with the ground, aligning the shoulders over the wrists and the arms perpendicular to the floor. 
  2. Spread your fingers and press firmly into the bases of your index fingers and thumbs. Draw your outer arms in as you firm and broaden your shoulder blades. 
  3. Reach your chest forward and your heels back.
  4. Engage your legs and core to support the weight of your pelvis.
  5. Keep your gaze straight down so that the back of the neck is long and comfortable.
  6. Hold the pose for as long as is comfortable with smooth, easy breathing, working your way up to a 60-second hold.

PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Downward-facing dog | Adho mukha svanasana
  • Four-limbed staff pose | Chaturanga dandasana
  • Tabletop pose

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

  • Crow pose | Bakasana
  • Tree pose | Vrksasana
  • Forearm plank

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Phala = to bear fruit, ripen
  • Phalaka = plank or board
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Benefits health of wrists.
  • Improves muscle tone of arms, shoulders, and core.
  • Builds endurance

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Builds mental endurance.
  • Engages navel chakra, manipura.
  • Increases tapas in practice and life.


Next Article

Ardha Hanumanasana: Half Front Splits Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Ardha hanumanasana (are-dah hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah) is a big stretch for hamstrings. This pose is more approachable than full hanumanasana and strengthens the muscles needed to practice front splits safely with the correct muscles properly engaged.

Philosophy + Origin

One of the main characters of the Ramayana is Hanuman, the famous monkey god, devotee of Lord Rama, and son of Vayu (the god of wind). He is celebrated in the pose hanumanasana, which physically represents his famous “leap of faith,” taking him across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka. Ardha hanumanasana, the preparatory pose for hanumanasana, can represent the stability and strength needed to make grand, world-changing (or life-changing) gestures. Rather than only focusing on gaining flexibility, practice ardha hanumanasana to create a healthy balance of flexibility and strength. When practicing ardha hanumanasana, remind yourself of the dangers of only being flexible in life; in order to really get where you want to go, you must also be strong and stable.

Read Article

Related Articles

More In Focus

Our unique blend of yoga, meditation, personal transformation, and alternative healing content is designed for those seeking to not just enhance their physical, spiritual, and intellectual capabilities, but to fuse them in the knowledge that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.


Desktop, laptop, tablet, phone devices with Gaia content on screens

Discover what Gaia has to offer.

Get instant access to free videos, helpful articles, and exclusive offers.