Reverse Plank Pose: Purvottanasana

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Purvottanasana (PUR-voh-tah-NAH-sah-nah) is a sibling of bridge pose and plank pose. Reverse plank may look intimidating for the shoulders, but there are several variations of the pose, all of which can help open the front of the body while strengthening the back.

Philosophy and Origin:

This pose goes by many names including “reverse plank,” and “upward-facing plank” pose. The Sanskrit name translates to “intense east stretch.” Ancient yogis considered the front of the body to be the “east” side as yoga was practiced while facing the rising sun.

Sanskrit:

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

Physical Benefits:

  • Opens the chest and shoulders.
  • Builds and tones the core muscles.
  • Counters forward-facing tasks like sitting at a desk, driving, and looking at a phone.

Energetic Benefits:

  • Releases tension from the body.
  • Relieves fatigue and stress.

Preparatory Poses:

Sequential Poses:

Counter Poses:

Adjustments/Modifications:

  • Use a block: Build inner core strength by placing a block in between your thighs, then squeeze the block as you lift into the pose.
  • Half reverse plank: Place the soles of your feet on the ground with knees bent for a variation of full reverse plank.

Step-By-Step:

  1. Begin seated with your legs out in front of you.
  2. Reach through the ball mounds of your feet, halfway between pointed and flexed.
  3. Place your hands behind you, fingertips pointing toward your hips. Roll your shoulders behind you.
  4. Press into your palms and through the ball mounds of your feet. Exhale to lift your hips off the ground, tailbone pointing toward your heels.
  5. Lift your heart. Option to lift your gaze to the ceiling.
  6. Hold for five breaths, then release hips to the ground.

 

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Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: Extended Hand to Toe Pose

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Utthita hasta padangusthasana (oo-TEET-uh HAWS-tuh POD-ung-goos-THAWS-un-nuh), also known as extended hand-to-toe pose, is a challenging and invigorating posture that stretches and strengthens while calming the mind and improving focus.

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Start standing with your hands on your hips. Draw your left knee in towards your belly and interlace your fingertips in front of your shin. Level your hips so they are equidistant from the ground. Pause here for a breath.
  2. Reach your left hand on the inside of your left knee and take hold of your big toe with your first and second fingers. Stay here, or lengthen your spine and extend your foot forward any amount.
  3. Hold for 3-5 breaths and release back to standing. Repeat on the other side.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS

  • For help with balance, try this pose with your free hand against a wall.
  • Keep the knee on your extended leg bent, or wrap a strap around your foot and take hold of the strap.
  • Option to extend your foot out to the side, and opposite arm out to the other side. Keep your shoulders level and relaxed away from the ears.

SANSKRIT

  • Utthita = extended
  • Hasta = hand
  • Pada = foot
  • Angustha = big toe
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS

  • Stretches hamstrings and hips.
  • Stretches the inner leg line (adductors).
  • Strengthens the back and arm muscles.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS

  • Improves sense of balance.
  • Calms the mind and improves focus.

PREPARATORY POSES

SEQUENTIAL POSES

COUNTER POSES

 

###Legal Disclaimer Before participating in any exercise program or using any fitness products or services that may be described and/or made accessible in or through the Gaia Website and/or the Services, you should consult with a physician or other healthcare provider. Read more about Gaia’s Terms Of Use.

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