Reverse Plank Pose: Purvottanasana
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.
- Purva: east
- Ut: intense
- Tan: stretch
- Asana: pose
- 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.
- Releases tension from the body.
- Relieves fatigue and stress.
- One-legged reverse plank | Eka pada purvottanasana
- Upward-facing bow pose | Urdhva dhanurasana
- Half lord of the fishes | Ardha matsyendrasana
- Seated forward fold | Paschimottanasana
- Childs pose | Balasana
- 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.
- Begin seated with your legs out in front of you.
- Reach through the ball mounds of your feet, halfway between pointed and flexed.
- Place your hands behind you, fingertips pointing toward your hips. Roll your shoulders behind you.
- 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.
- Lift your heart. Option to lift your gaze to the ceiling.
- Hold for five breaths, then release hips to the ground.
Natarajasana: Lord of the Dance Pose
Natarajasana (not-ah-raj-AHS-anna) is a physically challenging, beautiful pose that requires flexibility in the spine, legs, and hips. To practice the pose, use a thoughtful sequence filled with plenty of preparatory poses in order to make sure your body – and mind – are adequately prepared. Regular practice will help develop strong mental fortitude and determined concentration.
Philosophy + Origin
A physical embodiment of King Nataraja, a form of the lord Shiva, lord of the dance pose (also referred to as king dancer pose) is a tribute to this powerful god of destruction. Embracing destruction and even death as part of the cycle of change and growth, this pose is a helpful reminder that no good can exist without evil, no birth without death.
In most depictions of King Nataraja, he is standing on one leg (hence the shape of the pose), gazing over the head of a small dwarf, whose presence represents ignorance. In this way, lord of the dance pose encourages our consciousness to elevate above ignorance, above the common thoughts and misunderstandings that cloud our view. The balance that comes from the pose awakens our understanding that clarity brings steadiness.