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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Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

A soothing posture for body and mind, uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna), or standing forward bend, is straightforward but far from simple. Requiring flexibility in hamstrings, hips, and calves, uttanasana also requires patience. Watch the ebbs and flows in your body and life reflected in this simple posture.

Philosophy + Origin

In uttanasana, knowing when to accept intensity and when to be content with where you are is key to steady progress without injury or frustration. It’s easy to try to push for more — with uttanasana, this means wanting to be more flexible or pushing further into the pose. Rather than struggling, use the posture to practice santosha (contentment). Can you accept both the intensity and your capacity right now?

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