By Kellie Mathes

The physical foundation of yoga poses achieve proper alignment from the action in your Hands, Feet and Core. This is true in almost every pose. Here, we’ll explore Hands, Feet and Core action in plank and Chaturanga, as well as the transition between the two asanas. To set up into Plank Pose, start out belly down on your mat. Place your hands under your shoulders and spread your fingers wide. Tuck your toes under your feet. Pull your low abdominal muscles toward your spine. Press the backs of your knuckles firmly into the mat to lift your whole body up. It is the pressing down into your mat, that creates lift. Set your eye gaze about 18-24” beyond the top of your yoga mat. From skin to muscle to bone, hug your body toward its centerline. Balance your weight between your hands and the ball mounds of your feet, while pulling the low abdominal muscles in and up toward your spine.

Plank transition to Chaturanga
With your eye gaze forward, bend your elbows so they are pointing directly behind you and shift the weight from the ball mounds of the feet to the backs of the toes. Pull the low belly in and up toward the spine and slide your shoulders away from your ears. Hug the leg muscles in toward the bones. Stop lowering when the elbows are in line with the rib cage and the whole body is level to the earth. Maintain level hips and shoulders as you bend your elbows to point behind you.

Some common misalignments and how to avoid them
One of the most common misalignment happens when we release the core and the hips either dip toward the mat or up toward the ceiling while our chest dives down toward the mat. Keep the core engaged by pulling the low belly in and up toward the spine. Another common misalignment to avoid is driving the shoulders up toward the ears. Instead, squeeze the shoulder blades back and around the spine, while spreading the fingers wide.

Kellie Mathes, a Baptiste and Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP) and founder of Go Yoga! Express and Go Yoga! Express Belleville, teaches yoga classes and workshops, leads yoga teacher training programs and provides continuing education for yoga teachers.

Go YOGA! Express
216-5 Frank Scott Pkwy E
Swansea, IL 62226
(618) 416-5199