Overall, I think it’s safe to say that we all want a strong core — and if you’re a regular practitioner, you may have heard the phrase “strong core, strong practice” used by one of your teachers. But core exercises while lying on the back can often times strain the neck and low back if done too frequently or improperly. It’s for this reason that I developed this ladder yoga core sequence. Above all, it’s a fun twist on everybody’s favorite pose, plank!
High Plank Pose
First, start in your traditional High Plank pose with the shoulders over the wrists. Push firmly into the index knuckle of each hand with the fingertips spread wide. In addition, engage the core by sucking the belly up and in as you lengthen your tailbone toward your heels and spiral your inner thighs up toward the ceiling. Continue to maintain energy in the heels as they stack over the ball mounts of your feet.
2. Side Plank Pose
From high plank, start by rooting down firmly into your right palm and maintain shoulder-wrist alignment as you roll to the outer edge of your right foot. Next, stack the left foot on top of the right or modify if necessary (staggering the feet or lowering to right shin).
Reach your left arm and hand up toward the sky and continue to push down firmly through the right palm and lift your hips. Hold here for three breaths. After the third breath cycle, reach your left arm overhead in line with your ear and take a breath in.
3. Funky Plank
On your exhale from side plank, place your left forearm down on the mat with your left elbow in line with your right palm for funky plank. Most importantly, strive to always have elbow- palm alignment for this pose. You’ll look like half-chaturanga and half-forearm plank.
From here, we do some funky chaturangas. With your hand and forearm as they are, shift the chest forward, lower down halfway, push up, and then shift the chest back. Do this three times.
4. Modified Forearm Side Plank
Next, you’ll turn your left forearm so that it is parallel with the top of your mat. Inhale and reach your right arm up to the sky for modified forearm side plank. At the same time, keep lifting through the hips and pushing into the mat with your left forearm for three breaths. After the third breath cycle, reach your right arm overhead in line with your ear and take a breath in.
5. Forearm Plank
Subsequently, bring your right forearm down in line with your left for forearm plank. Shoulders should remain stacked over the elbows with a firm pressure throughout the forearms while you keep the engagement of your core and draw the hips in line with your shoulders.
Next, lift your right foot up off the mat for 10 pulses up with the leg. After that, ground the right foot and switch it out for 10 pulses up with the left leg.
Follow this by grounding the left leg and pick the right leg up. From here, bend the knee and bring it toward your right tricep then extend the leg back behind you and place it next to the left. Repeat this on the left side. After three sets on each side, firmly plan both feet on the ground.
6. Modified Forearm Side Plank
Here’s where the ladder out starts! Turn your right forearm parallel to the top of your mat. From here, inhale and reach your left arm up to the sky for modified forearm side plank on the other side. At the same time, rememebr to keep the hips high and push into your mat for three breaths. You’re over halfway done! After your third breath cycle, left arm reaches overhead and forward with an inhale.
7. Funky Plank
As we continue to exit this sequence the same way we entered, you’ll come back into funky plank but on the other side. Place your left palm down in line with your right elbow (remember: half-chaturanga half-forearm plank). Three funky chaturangas here and we’re almost home free.
8. Side Plank
Use all your strength and push into your left palm as you stack the right foot on the left and reach the right arm high. Make this side plank super strong!
9. High Plank
As you place the right hand back in line with the left, we arrive back at our starting position of high plank. Awesome work but just one last move to go in this yoga core sequence!
10. Low Plank
Finally, lower down halfway for your normal chaturanga but hold your low plank for 10 seconds. Squeeze your palms toward one another and firm up through the hands and shoulders. Continue to stay strong in the core and legs. After 10 seconds have passed, slowly lower down to the belly or plop down. However you make your way there, give yourself a pat on the back.
After you finish this yoga core sequence, take some belly down backbends to help stretch out the front line of the body. If this sequence causes discomfort or pain in the shoulders, try modifying by taking it while lowered to the knees. Don’t blame me if your core is sore tomorrow!