By the way, how are your six-pack abs?  You certainly don’t need washboard definition, but bear in mind that having a weak rectus abdominis is like breaking the legs off a table – no support from below for what’s above.  When Plank orients your lumbar vertebrae over your R.A., those bones, the spongy discs they surround and the delicate adjacent tissues should all have a firm foundation.  I invite you to watch the accompanying YouTube video to this article.  I offer an unusual variation of the Yoga Tune Up® Coreso Leg Lifts that tones and stretches the iliopsoas while reinforcing the R.A.’s role as a spinal stabilizer.  You’ll also get your hip extensors and deeper abdominal muscles involved.  Once you get this area in the groove, your lower back will be most appreciative in Plank.

The author demonstrating proper alignment for a plank pose that supports the lumbar spine.
It might also be helpful to focus on deep breathing in Plank.  You won’t be able to breathe as fully as you would in a more restful pose because the activated core muscles will slightly inhibit the diaphragm’s movement.  But breathing to the fullest extent possible in this pose will soften that toughened crossroads of the psoas major and diaphragm on your first two lumbar bones.

If you do your level best to find that friendlier alignment in your lower back but just aren’t able to access it the first ten or one hundred attempts, I suggest lifting the hips to slightly higher-than-shoulders level until you are sufficiently strong to carry your own load (this would appear to be halfway between Downward-Facing Dog and Plank).

As an accompaniment to this blog, I direct you to the words of my Yoga Tune Up® colleague Maura Barclay, who wrote an insightful primer on keeping the shoulders safe in transitioning from Plank to Yogic Push-Up, possibly the most ubiquitous movement in yoga.

Read part 1 of this article.

Check out Coregeous to strengthern your core.

Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.

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