Purvottanasana, also known as Upward Plank Pose, counteracts the strain of intense forward bends and poses like Caturanga Dandasana by stretching out the front body. It also helps to relieve tension in the shoulders and upper back muscles.
(Pronounced as "POOR-vote-AHN-AHS-anna")
The Sanskrit word purva means "the East," which is the direction yogic practitioners would traditionally face while practicing these postures. When combined with the suffix "-vottanasana," it means an intense stretch of the entire front part of the body from the forehead down to the toes.
Sit on your yoga mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you and press the palms of your hands into the floor by the sides of your hips. Your fingers should point forward toward your feet.
Bend your knees slightly as you pull each foot back only about 12 inches toward you so that the soles of your feet can make contact with the floor. Then push down with both the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet to lift yourself up into a reverse tabletop position. Adjust your hands so that they are directly below your shoulders, keeping your arms straight. Check that your ankles are directly below your knees as you hold your torso, pelvis and thighs up to form a flat, horizontal plane.
Now press down hard with your heels into the ground and push your pelvis as high as you can. Then while holding your pelvis up, slowly extend one leg straight and then the other leg straight. Point your toes so that the soles of your feet touch the ground.
Tuck in your shoulder blades and lift your sternum up to the sky. Slowly exhale as you let the head drop back without crunching up your neck. Look behind you.
Stay in this posture for at least 30 seconds. Gradually, you can increase the duration up to a minute. Exhale as you slowly sit back down in Dandasana, or Staff Pose.
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