Purvottanasana, also known as Reverse Plank, or Upward Plank Pose, is an intense stretch in the front of the body – it strengthens the arms and wrists, stretching the ankles, shoulders, and chest.
Depending on the difficulty level, it is an intermediate pose as it requires strength, stretch and balance in the body. It counteracts the effects of Chaturanga by extending your pectoralis major, minor and anterior deltoids muscles.
Purushottanasana derived from Sanskrit name consisting of three words — Purva + uttana + asana:
- “Purva” = “east”(Here the “east” refers to the front part of the body right from tips of the toes to the crown of the head)
- “uttana” = “intense stretch or maximum stretch”
- “asana“= “pose or posture”
In English, it is referred to as the eastward stretch. By holding this pose, the body resembles the Planck posture, although in an inverted position. Therefore, some practitioners also refer to it as an inclined plane pose, inverted plank, upward plank, or reverse plank pose, the posture that Purushottanasana performs.
Ancient yogis practiced facing the east as the sun rose, so the front of the body (facing the sun) was considered the “east” side. This yoga pose gives a deep stretch, which can feel intense. Therefore, whenever yoga practitioners practice Purushottanasana their entire body gets energized, every time.
|Also known as:||Reverse plank, Inverted Plank, Upward Plank Pose, Stretch Of The East Pose, Inclined Plane, East Intense Stretch Pose, Purvottanasana|
|Total time:||30 seconds|
|Chakra:||Ajna Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, Anahata Chakra, Manipura Chakra|
|Focus:||Arms and Wrists|
|Counterposes:||Ardha matsyendrasana, Paschimottanasana, Balasana|
|Preparatory poses:||Gomukhasana, Supta Virasana, Ustrasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Phalakasana, Dhanurasana|
|Follow-up poses:||Eka pada purvottanasana, Paschimottanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana|
|Indications:||Abdominal organ function, thyroid|
|Contraindications:||Modification for neck injury, wrist, elbow and shoulder injury, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Tendonitis, High blood pressure|
Benefits of Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose)
Following are the physical and mental benefits of Purvottanasana – Reverse Plank Pose:
- Physical Benefits:
- Opens the chest, shoulders, and throat
- Stretches the arm, leg, and back muscles
- Energizes the body
- Tones and builds the core muscles
- Improves balance
- Increases flexibility and improves posture
- Relieves fatigue
- Stretches the wrist, shoulder, and ankle joints
- Mental Benefits:
- Develops focus
- Releases tension from the body
- Improves concentration
- Relieves stress
- Start by sitting in the staff pose: Sit down on the ground and stretch the legs straight forward, flexing the ankles and bending the toes back toward your torso, which is straight and tall.
- Place the hands lightly atop the thighs, palms downward, as you shift them slightly inward and press them into the ground. Deeply inhale, then slowly out.
- Continue to sustain slow, full breathing as you place the thumbs under the edge of the armpits and let the upward force lift your entire torso until the head is straight above the heart, which is directly above the hips.
- Sustaining this tall torso, lower the arms to your sides, touching the ground with the fingertips to steady your posture and balance.
- Remain in this position as long as you can.
- Place the hands a few inches behind the hips and point the fingers forward. Bend the knees to plant the feet on the ground with your heels about 12 inches away from the hips; then rotate the big toes inward.
- Exhale, press the hands and the insides of the feet into the ground and raise the hips until your body and thighs are parallel to the ground and the arms and shins are perpendicular.
- While keeping the hips in place, straighten out the right leg followed by the left leg. Raise the hips a little higher without causing the hips to firm. Raise the chest while pressing the shoulder blades together across your back.
- Gently tip the head backward without shortening the neck. Stay in this position for 30-60 seconds.
- To release yourself from this pose, exhale and lower yourself back into the staff pose. Stretch the legs straight forward, flexing the ankles and bending the toes back toward your torso, which is suspended by an invisible string that runs up to the stars.
Modifying Purvottanasana – Reverse Plank Pose
1. Using the blocks
Place two blocks behind your hips as you sit in the dandasana.
Rest your hands and place your hands on the blocks.
Lift the hips and feet off the floor by placing your hands on the blocks.
2. Block modification
- 3 to 4 blocks stacked on the floor.
- Sit on top of these vertical blocks with legs stretched forward.
- Slowly bend and place the hands on the floor with straight arms.
- To keep the poses for a long time, do Purvottanasana – Reverse Plank Pose on the hips while maintaining the integrity of them.
3. Using chair
- Keep a chair behind you so that you can do dandasana.
- Reach its seats with hands.
- Lift the body up while pressing your hands on the edge of the chair.
4. Chair with bolster
- Place a bolster on a chair behind you.
- Move your hands behind your hips and perform Purvottanasana – Reverse Plank Pose.
- You can rest your head on the bolt by dropping the head backwards.
Precautions and contraindications
While practicing Purvottanasana – Reverse Plank, keep a few things in mind:
1. High blood pressure
This yoga posture needs to be practiced with guidance when suffering from high blood pressure, as the sudden flow of blood behind the head and neck causes loosening.
If you are suffering from a severe migraine, proper guidance is required, as the head becomes loose during the practice of this yoga posture.
3. Wrist, neck and back injury
Keep in mind that any injury will hinder the practice of this yoga posture, so practitioner needs to be cautious.
4. Weak body
It is important to work on the core strength of the body before practicing this yoga pose, because for the elbow joints, the wrist joints are not used to carry the body weight while the arms are placed behind you.