In my entire yoga career I have never herd anyone refer to this pose in sanskrit so I had to actually look it up. Turns out it is not as mysterious as I may of thought or was hoping. Just as most things in yoga, its simply logical.
Plank = utthita caturanga dandasana = high push-up
Low Plank = caturanga dandasana = low push-up
So the big mystery is just utthita, which means extended… It is also called Kumbhakasana by some which means “withheld breath”. Some yoga practitioners believe that by exhaling all the breath and holding Plank Pose, the body and mind become stronger through building tolerance of the discomfort of not breathing. To each their own 🙂
I would venture to guess that almost every person who as ever attempted any physical activity has been in plank pose. It’s part of the “staple” push-up that has been around forever. Or better put…the push-up is part of the “staple” caturanga that has been around forever!
Plank pose is typically the first arm balance performed in ones practice and is used during the warm up and sun salutation asanas.
Plank Pose (utthita caturanga dandasana)
Begin in downward facing dog. Start to work with the breath taking deep inhales and exhales through the nose. Take about 2-3 rounds of breath. On the next inhale begin to roll the body forward bringing the shoulders over the wrists and coming on the the front balls of the feet.
On the exhale stay here and begin to work the shoulder-blades down the back as if you could make them touch. You want to create a long spine here, imagine yourself as a plank of wood and flex the core muscles working to make the body as straight as possible.
Strengthens the arms and wrists.
Tones the legs, back and core muscles.
Creates awareness of bodily alignment.
Prepares the body for more strenuous arm balances.