I went to the Yoga Journal Live New York City conference 2016 April. Among many sessions I took a class with Kristen Kemp who is a power yoga teacher. It happened that her class was not only set up to strengthen the core for a better plank but also to challenge participants to see who could hold a plank pose the longest.
There were 50 participants in the session and we had to remain on our hands (not our forearms) without letting our hips come up too high or too low. There were four assistants walking around and if you got three taps, you were out. Participants tried as much as possible to have a good time holding their planks including sing-alongs.
In the end I was able to stay in my plank for 34 minutes and 15 seconds and won the competition. I won a conference pass for next year's Yoga Journal Live New York City conference.
Kat Axmann, Houstonian Club Yoga Instructor
Join Kat in the Studio B for Tuesdays 7:20 a.m. Yoga Flow, Thursdays 6 p.m. Yoga Flow or Thursdays 7:10 p.m. Yoga Stretch.
Use these three simple steps to stabilize shoulders and turbo charge your plank:
1. Position hands with middle fingers pointed forward and parallel to each other while turning inner elbows towards the front of the mat. This external rotation helps to stabilize the glenohumeral joint.
2. Protract or widen shoulder blades to engage serratus anterior, stabilizing the scapular-thoracic joint. Your upper back will be rounded as you minimize "winging” of the scapulae. In addition to stabilizing a 2nd joint in our loosely-designed shoulders, this action positions the rib cage in an optimal position relative to the pelvis for maximum core stabilization.
3. As long as your shoulder blades are protracted & stabilized, let the pelvis relax down to gravity, no tucking or untucking needed, and the thighs extend completely in their hips sockets, backs of the knees pressing up to the ceiling. Touch knees to the floor to ease into the position and/or hold it longer.
These alignment points produce a lot of heat quickly but protect your low back and shoulder joints.
By Misha Laird
Houstonian Club Yoga Coordinator