Phalakasana (High Plank Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) - Fitzabout

Phalakasana, also known as Kumbhakasana or High Plank Pose, strengthens and tones the core, abdominal, wrists, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves muscles.

Experts believe that regular practice of this yoga pose is a strength training pose that challenges the entire body and mind, helping to improve your strength, physique, and mood.

This is a comprehensive strengthening posture by engaging your shoulder muscles, abdominal core muscles, quads, trapezius, rhomboids, triceps, lats, glutes and hamstrings.

The pose helps in stability, builds focus, increases muscle definition, and prepares your body for balance with the other hand. The pose also strengthens the muscles around the spine, giving you better posture.

Information

Known as:Phalakasana, High Plank Pose, Plank Pose, Kumbhakasana, Santolasana, Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana
Sanskrit name:फलकासन
IAST:Phalakāsana
Pronunciation:fal-ack-AHS-anna
Level:Beginner
Type:Arm balance, strength
Focus:Entire body, core, abs, spine, arm, back, leg
Total time:30 to 60 seconds plus
Drishti:Down and slightly forward
Chakra:Manipura Chakra
Indications:Respiratory system, insomnia, migraine, irritable symptoms, obliques, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, sciatica symptoms, metabolism, glutes, tibialis anterior, rhomboids, deltoid, biceps, triceps, backaches, parasympathetic nervous system response, hormones such as thyroxine, menopause
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana), Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Bharmanasana (Table Top Pose)
Preparatory poses:Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank Pose or Four Limbed Staff Pose), Bharmanasana (Table Top Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose)
Follow-up poses:Crow Pose (Bakasana), Tree Pose (Vrksasana), Forearm Plank Pose (Dolphin Plank or Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana), Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Contraindications:High blood pressure or low blood pressure, arms, wrists, legs, or thighs injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, anxiety

Meaning

Phalakasana

The Phalakasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of two words — Phalaka + Asana:

  1. Phalaka” = “plank or board or bench”
  2. Asana” = “posture or pose”
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The Sanskrit word phala means “to bear fruit or ripen”. When you think of Phalakasana as an opportunity to “ripen” or “bear fruit,” you become aware of the transformative effect of this challenging pose. Every time you enter this pose, use the breath to ripen the fruits of your labor. The ability to hold the pose with stability and grace is known to practice and bring about big changes in life.

This strength builder pose promotes practice, encourages you to face the challenge again and again so that you can become stronger, creating an inner flame in your body that fuels every aspect of your life.

Benefits of Phalakasana (High Plank Pose)

Medically Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) cures diseases like insomnia, migraine, irritable symptoms due to menopause, osteoporosis and general weakness of the body.

However, the physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthens the shoulders, neck, upper arms, forearms, wrists, spine, and abdominal muscles
    • Tones the core[1], abdominal, wrists, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves muscles
    • Reduces the tummy fat
    • Expand the chest muscles
    • Improves respiratory system
    • Improve digestion
    • Improves the spine flexibly
    • Improves the posture
    • Enhances the stamina and metabolism
    • Aid in the relief of sciatica symptoms
    • Stabilize the scapula (shoulder blade), especially the serratus anterior
    • Develop the bone density in the arms, back, and legs
    • Relief from lower back pain, sciatica, or herniated discs
    • Improves mobility in the legs and feet
    • Balances the parasympathetic nervous system response
    • Stimulates hormones such as thyroxine
    • Improve the overall sleep quality
    • Prevent insomnia
  2. Mental Benefits:
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Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) Practice Guide

High Plank Pose is one of the most popular poses in many yoga styles. It includes many types of yoga sequences, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Surya Namaskar. In this way, this yoga pose is often a repetition of a series of poses that increase body heat, help sweat and strengthen your arms, wrists, spine, and tone your abdomen.

Step-by-step instructions

Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) steps - Fitzabout
image credit: Libby Elliot
  1. Start in Bharmanasana (Table Top Pose). Hands are about shoulder distance apart and fingers are spread apart. The shins are hip distance apart, the shoulders are placed directly over the elbows and wrists, and your hips are directly on the knees.
  2. Bring your gaze down and forward slightly, lengthen the back of your neck and draw your navel in and up toward the spine.
  3. Tuck your toes in and walk your feet back, bringing your head and body into a straight and strong energetic line (like a wooden plank). Do not let your hips drop toward the floor, and don’t keep your butt in the air.
  4. If you have wrist problems or lack of arm strength, drop your knees to the floor. The knees should be a few inches behind the hips. If there is bruising or tenderness in the wrists, you can try making a fist with your hands, which will protect your tendons in the wrist.
  5. Be careful not to bring the shoulders past the wrists. This puts a lot of pressure on the wrist and can lead to future wrist injuries. It’s better to have a healthy wrist and have continuous long-term exercise, so back off a bit if you feel any tenderness or discomfort in the wrist.
  6. Engage the quads and rotate your inner thighs up toward the ceiling. As you lengthen, your tailbone points toward the heel.
  7. Broaden the collarbone and draw your shoulder blades back.
  8. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, or as long as possible.
  9. To release yourself from the pose, slowly lower the body back down to the floor, and return to the initial Bharmanasana (Table Top Pose).
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Precautions and contraindications

Some precautions and contraindications are to keep in mind while practicing this yoga pose, which are listed below:

  • High Plank Pose (Phalakasana) should not be practiced if there is an arm or wrist injury.
  • The pose should not be practiced if you are suffering from injury in your legs, including the upper leg on the thighs.
  • Individuals suffering from low blood pressure or high blood pressure should avoid this yoga pose as a lot of pressure is felt on the chest while balancing in the pose.
  • People with carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid the Kumbhakasana completely, as it puts pressure on the elbows and wrists.
  • This pose should be avoided if you are suffering from anxiety related issues as the mind and body require a lot of attention and trying to focus on these issues will put more stress on the mind and body.

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Article Sources +
  1. Phys Ther Rehabil Sci 2016;5:29-33. DOI: 10.14474/ptrs.2016.5.1.29. Comparison of three different surface plank exercises on core muscle activity.[]

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