Yoga The Dog to Plank

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The Dog to Plank appears in more than one workout in this book because it’s such a superb, powerful exercise. You could say that it’s one of the most strengthening of the strengthening exercises. The exercise sculpts and tones your entire upper body, offers aerobic benefits, and helps you develop the ability to concentrate. Don’t give up on this exercise; if you train your mind to do it, your body will follow.

Fasten your ankle weights and follow these steps (if the steps prove too tough at first, you don’t have to use the ankle weights):

1. Begin on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders, your knees directly underneath your hips, and your toes planted on the ground. Spread your fingers wide for support.

2. Move into the downward-facing dog position by lifting your hips and buttocks as you straighten your legs, bring your thighs back, and move your heels toward the floor. Your ears should be between your arms. Draw your belly in and up and your tailbone down for support.

3. As you inhale to a count of four, lift your right leg up as high as you can without twisting your hip open. This is the starting position. Push your leg straight back, and flex your foot to keep it fully engaged — it shouldn’t be limp.

4. As you exhale to a count of four, bring the trunk of your body forward so that your shoulders are over your wrists. You’re in the plank position. Keep your lifted leg parallel to the floor if you’re strong enough; otherwise, tap your toe on the floor. You should feel your abdominal and arm muscles working. Don’t bend your elbows; support your weight through your shoulders and across your back without using your chest muscles.

5. As you inhale to a count of four, return to the starting position. Don’t lunge backward. Be patient, and move in rhythm with your breathing.

Do this exercise six to eight times with each leg, pause to rest, and then do it another six to eight times with each leg.

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