How To Do Upward Plank (Purvottanasana)
Yoga is a science of balance and harmony. There are poses and then there are counter poses for almost all the poses. Forward bends are countered by upward lifting motion and supine postures are countered by prone postures. Purvottanasana or Upward Plank Pose is also a counter to forward bending yoga poses. It might look like an easy posture from the long list of asanas, but on the contrary, it is a challenging pose.
It is designed to stretch all the muscles of the front of the body and contract the muscles in the back. In Sanskrit, ‘Purva’ means Eastside, ‘Uttana’ means Stretch, and ‘Asana’ means Pose, so together it is called the Intense Stretch of the East Side Pose. Upward Plank Pose benefits include stretching the front of the body and getting an access to those muscles we might not have an access to otherwise on a daily basis. Let’s have look at the Purvottanasana benefits, steps, contraindications, and modifications.
Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Do Plank Pose:
Step 1: Be seated in Dandasana or the Staff Pose. Gather your focus inwards and steady your breathing.
Step 2: To perform Purvottanasana, place the hands at the back, on the mat, several inches away from the buttocks. The palms are placed on the mat in a fashion that the fingers are pointed towards the body. The fingers are spread firmly on the mat to gain extra grip. The toes of both the feet are pointed outwards.
Step 3: Bend the knees and place the heels on the mat. Now, gently press the hands on the floor and lift the buttocks up in the air, while the heels and the entire feet are pressed on the floor. The position formed would that be of a reversed table top where the torso and the thighs are almost parallel to the floor while the arms are perpendicular to the floor.
Step 4: The legs and arms, both are straight at all times. Ensure that the hips are not sagging by constantly lifting and maintaining the length of the torso. The shoulder blades are pressed against the back and the torso and chest are erect and lifted.
Step 5: Roll the shoulders gently to bring the shoulders in line with neck and let the head drop back in the air gently. At no time, the head should be let loose completely. A marginal amount of control must be accessed.
Step 6: Stay in the pose for 3 to 5 breaths. Now, in order to come out of the pose, bring the head back to the center, bend the elbows and place the buttocks on the floor and gradually straighten the legs and come back in the Staff Pose.
Modifications & Variations
Many students might find it difficult to perform the Reverse Plank Pose. However, they can perform different variations of Plank Pose. If the practitioners find it difficult to perform the pose in its entirety, they can start with Reverse Tabletop pose. It will develop enough strength in the arms and legs to be able to perform the posture. Another way of starting with the pose is that the Purvottanasana beginners can start by sitting on a chair, and lifting the buttocks off the chair, by placing the hands behind and pressing them to lift the buttock. This will also build the necessary strength in the body.
Also, at any time, if any pain or stress is felt in the neck, the practitioners must lift the neck and not drop it behind. The neck will be in center and long or if needed, chin will be tucked in to activate the Thyroid gland as well.
Benefits & Advantages
- One of the major benefits of Purvottanasana Yoga is that It works on releasing the stress and tension felt by the practitioners on continuously performing the forward bends. It revitalizes the front of the body and makes it more supple to perform the advanced poses
- With all the weight in the arms and legs, Purvottanasana Yoga helps the practitioner in building strength in the arms, wrists, and legs
- Yet another benefit of Plank Pose is that it brings awareness to the muscles of the body that otherwise go unnoticed by almost all the other yoga postures
- It stretches the shoulders, chest, and the front of the ankles and works as a magnificent Heart Chakra opener. It removes all baggage and toxins stored in the fourth chakra of the body
- Also, by opening the chest, it removes the problems of the rounded shoulders or scrunched back. The motion of widening the chest helps to open the lungs and increase the supply of oxygen in the body
- If the neck is straightened and the chin is tucked in, the Thyroid gland is activated to generate immense power and increase the metabolism rate of the body and get enhanced functioning of the Thyroid gland
- Patients suffering from the problem of cervical are often suggested to not perform Purvottanasana or not drop the neck behind while performing this pose
- Those of us who are suffering from neck or back injury must not perform the Upward Plank Pose at all until the symptoms persist
Also, practitioners who have weaker wrists should avoid this pose or perform this pose for shorter durations and gradually build the strength in the wrists to perform this pose for entire five breaths
To know about Upward Plank in further detail, explore our Yoga Teacher Training In India.