Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Upward Plank Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

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.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits


(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.

How to do Upward Plank Pose

Step One

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.

Step Two

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.

Step Three

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.

Step Four

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.

Step Five

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.

Beginner's Tip:

Practice this pose with a chair to help you build up your arm strength in preparation for the full pose. Sit on the front edge of a sturdy chair with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Move your hands to the back edge of the chair so that the backs of your arms can lean slightly against the chair's back support. Exhale as you push down on the chair with your hands and lift your pelvis while extending both of your legs straight and pointing your toes. Look up at the ceiling and try to lift your chest.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:


Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  1. Wrist, shoulder or neck injuries less than 3 months old
  2. If you have chronic neck pain, support the head on the seat of a chair
  3. Menstruation


  • Tones the muscles in your arms, wrists and legs
  • Increases flexibility in your shoulders, chest and upper back
  • Relieves fatigue after doing many intense forward-bending postures

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Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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