Ardha Purvottanasana: The Reverse Table Top Pose

Ardha Purvottanasana (are-dah purr-vote-ahn-sah-nah), also known as the Reverse Table Top Pose, is a mild bridge that counters forward facing daily forces and helps relieve and open the chest, shoulders and pelvis. During each exercise, make sure to maintain a focus on your breathing. This attention to breathing will hone your attention, focusing your mind on the constant change as you breathe in and out. Pay attention to how the pose affects your breath.

Philosophy and Origin:

This pose goes by many names including “Tabletop”, “Reverse Table Top”, “Half Reverse Plank,” “Crab” and “Half Upward Plank” pose. The Sanskrit name translates to “Half Intense East Stretch,” as the ancient yoga tradition considered the front of the body to be the “east” side as yoga was practiced while facing the sun as it rose in the east. This pose is a variation of the full Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana) and provides many of the same benefits for those with less core strength and flexibility.

Sanskrit:

  • Ardha: half
  • Purva: east
  • Ut: intense
  • Tan: stretch
  • Asana: pose

Tips:

This pose stretches the hip, pelvis, spine and back. While this can help with relief from discomfort and prevent strain, exercise caution. Go slowly and don’t push your body beyond its limits.

Level:

Beginner (1)

Physical Benefits:

  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Builds and tones the core muscles
  • Engages and establishes foundation in the pelvic area
  • Safely stretches your hamstrings

Energetic Benefits:

  • Releases tension from your body
  • Counters forward-facing and motion-related tasks
  • Helps increase understanding of basic hip movements
  • Relieves fatigue and stress

Mudra: Pran Mudra

While this pose relies upon the usage of both hands as supports, a mudra can be practiced before or after the pose to enhance the effects and benefits you receive from the exercise. This mudra is believed to give you the courage to try new things, the strength to see things through, and activates the Svadhistana (Root) Chakra while stimulating the nourishing energy drawn from the pelvic floor.

How to: With each hand, place the tips of the thumb, ring finger and little finger together. Keep your other fingers extended. This mudra offers a stabilizing, calming preparation for the pose.

Mantra:

Om

This powerful and recognizable mantra can be chanted three to six times to help establish a rhythm for breathing and is thought to be the origin of sound. Hinduism teaches that Om is the sound of the universe, tying the concept into Brahman and the spiritual reality. This mantra is believed to help soothe the mind, easing negative feelings away and aligning us with each other in acknowledgment of our human nature.

Preparatory Poses:

  • Seated Staff Pose
  • Low Lunge
  • High Lunge

Follow-Up Poses:

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Purvottanasana

Contraindications and Cautions:

Although this is a relatively easy, mild bridge, you should check with a doctor before performing the pose if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Neck, shoulder, or wrist injuries

Adjustments/Modifications:

  • Be aware of how you place your hands and feet so as to avoid any issues
  • For more support, place a block or two under your sacrum. In this case you do not need to lift up all the way to still enjoy many of the benefits.
  • To help build inner core strength place a block in between your thighs; Squeeze your legs around the block as you hold the pose
  • Upward Plank is an advanced variation of this pose

Step-By-Step:

  1. Begin in Dandasana, also known as Staff Pose.
  2. Bend your knees. Place the soles of your feet hips width distance on the ground with your heels about 1.5 to 2 feet ahead of your pelvis.
  3. Ground down into your hands and feet. Lift your hips up three inches.
  4. Swing your hips forward so your knees align directly over your ankles.
  5. Place your hands so the midline of each is parallel to the outside edges of your shoulders. Use your middle fingers as a reference.
  6. Lift your hips up with your shoulders and hamstrings. Invite your hips to meet your knees and shoulders in a parallel line. Begin with your gaze looking over your chest then allow your head to fall back in a parallel line with the rest of your torso with your gaze up at the ceiling.
  7. Lower back down on an exhale to exit.

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