Health & Beauty

Yoga Break 3: Lapsang Souchong & Power Planking

Get long and lean in a steady Plank Pose.
Get long and lean in a steady Plank Pose.
Pair with robust Lapsang Souchong for extra strength.
Pair with robust Lapsang Souchong for extra strength.
As promised in Yoga Break 2: Downward Dog, now's the time to get planking.

Planking — holding oneself in a straight position on the ground, like you're a bodyblock of wood — was once such a huge fad that it generated its own Wiki page.

However, the original plank is a functional movement. Superfreaking functional. It's the base for any straight-body exercise that requires deep abdominal engagement: pushups, pullups — even burpees! Think of yourself as a house, and the Plank as the key element to creating tall, strong beams (muscles) that support your inner structure (skeleton). Similarly in yoga, the Plank Pose serves as a foundation pose, transitioning you through flows while challenging gravity and maintaining alignment in a horizontal position.

To stay straight and true in your Plank, you need a tea that you can trust to support you. Go for Lapsang Souchong. Smoked on actual pine planks, it's robust enough to inspire confidence, with subtle notes that emerge with longer steeps. This one is great for when you work up to holding Plank for endurance — start off with a 30-second hold-and-steep for a warmup, then resteep and resteep with an additional 30 seconds. Your triceps will scream and thank you.

1) Prep the tea with a bit of mindfulness. Whenever you take a Yoga Break, this is your chance to come back to yourself as you heat the water, measure the leaves, and combine it all in your favorite drinking cup. (Yes, you can use your beer stein, just make sure it's clean.)

2) Set the tea to steep and get ready to get planking. This pose is ideal for moderate steeps, as you want to be able to hold a plank for at least a minute if your aim is to improve core stability.

Start on your hands and knees in an easy tabletop, then press back through your feet to take your knees off the ground, so that your body forms a straight line in the air, just as you would at the top of a pushup. Pinch your glutes together, tighter than you ever thought possible, dig those fingers into the ground, and brace your midsection as if preparing to be punched in the stomach.

3) Breathe, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this for ten breaths or 30 seconds.

If this is too challenging or bothers your wrists, then attempt the plank on your elbows. If it's not challenging enough, then remove one hand from the ground and take it to the sky, engaging your obliques, and hold for 15 seconds on each side. The plank can be made harder or easier depending on how close you are to the ground, and the width of your base of support.

4) Repeat 5 times, or until your tea is fully steeped.

5) On the final plank, lower yourself with utmost patience. Go for a descent that takes as much time as you were able to maintain the plank. So, if you managed the full 30-second hold, then you're aiming for a 30-second drop back to the ground.

6) Breathe one last time, and sip. You've earned it.

Peace and cheers.