Plank Pose (Phalakasana or Kumbhakasana in Sanskrit) is a seemingly simple and straightforward yoga pose. It’s also a very common yoga pose and you’ll practice it in almost every Power or Vinyasa-style yoga class.
But just because yogis practice it often doesn’t make Plank an easy pose. . .
Why is Plank Pose so challenging, and why are there so many common mistakes in it? For one, it requires a lot of body strength and endurance. It’s easy to overlook certain aspects of alignment when you’re focusing on holding this pose!
Plank is a challenging yoga pose that strengthens your core and upper body. Despite how common this power pose is, it is often practiced incorrectly.
There are four common mistakes that students make in Plank Pose. Each mistake diminishes the overall benefits of the pose and can also potentially lead to injury.
But with the proper technique and body awareness, you can correct these issues to avoid injury, practice Plank Pose correctly, and get the most benefit out of this pose.
Read on to learn more!
Here Are 4 Common Mistakes In Plank Pose:
These are the most common mistakes or issues that happen in Plank Pose. Watch our short yoga tutorial video, and read on for more detailed explanations about each misalignment.
1. Dead Hands
Dead hands, oven mits, no hasta bandha . . . whatever you want to call it – yoga students often overlook their hands when they’re in weight-bearing poses. Bandhas are energy locks in yoga, and we even have one for our hands (hasta = hands, and bandha = energy lock).
Having active, engaged hands makes all the difference in Plank Pose.
How to fix it:
Start by spreading your fingers wide and gripping the mat with each individual finger tip. Pretend that you are gripping a basketball beneath your palm. This should engage your fingers and also help you ‘seal’ the outer perimeter of your palm to the mat, while the center of your palm is slightly lifted.
Now, imagine you’re keeping a ladybug alive beneath your palm. This engagement will keep your hands and arms active, and also protect your wrist by taking some of the pressure off that joint.
Do you experience wrist pain or soreness during or after yoga? Learn How to Ease Wrist Pain and Prevent Injury In Your Yoga Practice (Video)
2. Hips Dip
One of the most common mistakes – and also misconceptions – in Plank Pose is allowing the hips to dip down too low. In reality, the hips should be lifted high, almost level with your shoulders. But what often happens is the hips dip down far beneath this point and as a result, pressure gets put on the lumbar spine.
We want the hips to stay lifted to keep the low back safe and also keep the core strong and engaged to prevent injury and increase the strengthening benefits of Plank.
How to fix it:
Come into Downward Facing Dog in front of a mirror so you can watch your form. From Down Dog, as you shift forward into Plank Pose, watch where your hips go.
If you see them dip, feel pressure in your low back, or if you notice a “U” shape curve in your low back, lift your hips as you engage your core. Bring your hips more in line with your shoulders, so you could draw a straight line from shoulder blades to low back.
3. Duck Butt
“Duck butt” is what teachers reference when we arch the low back. This arching is not your friend in poses like Handstand (when an arched low back will throw your balance off) and Plank – where this arching takes the pressure out of your core (where it should be) and into your low back (where it should not be).
Want to learn how to Handstand? Take this 20-Minute Handstand Tutorial (Free Class)
Just like #2, this misalignment can create a risk for injury by putting pressure on the lumbar spine, and also makes it challenging to engage your core.
How to fix it:
From Table Top Pose, gently tuck your pelvis – rounding or scooping your pelvis forward towards the mat. This is helpful to do in front of a mirror so you’re able to watch the arching or ‘duck butt’ be replaced by a straightening of the low back as you scoop your pelvis forward.
Once your pelvis is tucked, you can now fully engage your core and press up into Plank Pose.
4. Strained Neck
The final common mistake in Plank Pose is when students jut their heads too far forward or try to look up, which puts a serious strain on the neck. Instead, you want to think about creating one long line of energy from the base of your neck out through the crown of your head.
Luckily this misalignment is a simple fix . . .
How to fix it:
Instead of looking up or too far forward, instead try sending your gaze just beyond your fingertips, or to the top edge of your mat.
Why It’s So Important to Practice Plank Pose Correctly
There you have it – four key alignment tips to help you practice Plank Pose safely and correctly. Keep practicing and feel free to come back to this yoga pose tutorial video as a great refresher to keep this strengthening pose safe and effective.
By maintaining proper alignment in Plank Pose, you protect yourself from injury and also get the most out of this incredibly strengthening yoga pose.
Have questions? Ask us in the comments below. We love hearing from you, and asking questions is how we all grow in our yoga practice!