Upward Facing Plank Pose

Yoga Poses

Upward Facing Plank Pose Purvottanasana

Steps

Begin in staff pose (Dandasana) with legs together and in front of the body. Bring the hands in back of the hips, fingertips pointing towards the body. Press the feet towards the ground and lift the hips upward. To exit the pose, lower the hips to the ground.

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

Ancient yogis practiced upward facing plank at dawn when the sun rose in the east. Its Sanskrit name, Purvottanasana means intense stretch to the east (purva -east, ut-intense, tan-stretch, asana-pose). To make the most of this full body stretch, keep arms and legs straight, stretching toes to the west and head to the east. Lift the heart to the sky and bring the gaze inward to the third eye.

Technical Comments

Hands should be shoulder-width apart, fingertips and toes press down into the ground to bring the hips up. To prevent the shoulders and arms from collapsing, externally rotate the upper arms, opening up the space between the shoulder blades. Stretch the chest open and lift the sternum upward.  In the full pose, the sole of the foot is flat to the ground, the head releases back. This helps to bring the hips in alignment with shoulders.

Benefit Comments

  • Strengthens shoulders, arms, chest and legs
  • Stretches spine, back, chest and legs
  • Benefits nervous system, alleviating symptoms of mild depression and fatigue
  • Improves respiratory system, relaxing throat and opening chest

Watch Out For:

  • Collapsing arms (bend knees and bring feet flat on ground)
  • Sagging hips (place block under feet and press feet down)

Contraindications

  • Wrist injuries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Back injuries

Modifications

  • Reverse table top (Ardha Purvottanasana) with bent knees and bring feet flat on ground
  • From staff pose (hands on blocks or blanket behind hips)
  • Sitting on a block (hands flat on ground or block)
  • Sitting on a chair stretch legs straight out in front. Hands grip edges of chair to lift hips. Press toes down.

Variations

  • From upward facing plank, raise legs vertical (one at a time)

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Forward bend (Paschimottsana)
  • Push-up pose (Chaturanga)

Written By: Brenda Hamlet

Brenda Hamlet, is teacher and journalist in Oxford, England. More information about Brenda can be found at www.pret-a-yoga.com

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