How to Do Upward Plank Pose in Yoga (Guide to Purvottanasana)

Upward Plank Pose mirrors the shape of the Plank Pose, except the practitioner faces the sky. As a result, it targets an entirely different group of muscles. This pose exudes strength and channels energy through the body.

“To this day, I struggle with Upward Plank Pose,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “Not because it is physically challenging, but because it requires a very clear intention to be executed correctly.”

Upward Plank Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Purvottanasana
Pose Type: Strengthening Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Legs, glutes, back, shoulders, and chest.
Benefits: Upward Plank has a dual function. It strengthens the back of the body (legs, glutes, back, shoulder girdle) while simultaneously lengthening the muscles along the front of the body (ankles, thighs, hip flexors, stomach, chest, and throat). It is certainly an asana that will challenge your level of shoulder mobility, as the very movement of opening your chest in Upward Plank is counterintuitive. Furthermore, this pose places a lot of weight on the wrists, which builds up strength and conditions the wrists to be more flexible.
Preparatory Poses: Bridge Pose, Plank Pose, Reverse Tabletop

How to Do Upward Plank Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in Staff Pose. Plant your palms firmly into the ground. Shuffle your seat forward as you bend the knees and plant your feet. Aim to bring your seat somewhere in the middle between your hands and feet.
  2. Take a breath in as you pull the shoulders back and open your chest. As you exhale, lift your hips into Reverse Tabletop. Try to align your hips level with the shoulders and knees. Avoid collapsing into your shoulders.
  3. Carefully begin to walk your feet forward and straightening your legs. Keep pushing the hips up, holding the body in a rigid plank position.
  4. Lower your head to extend the neck in the same direction as the rest of the spine. Stay in this position for up to 5 breaths, then bend the legs, stepping the feet closer to the hands, and landing your seat down.

Beginner’s Tip

Although visually, Upward Plank looks similar to Plank Pose, simply facing the other way, is significantly more difficult. The first thing you should look out for is your shoulders. Upward Plank combines a backward movement of the arm with a chest-opening motion. Be very mindful of sensations in and around your shoulders and ease off if you feel discomfort or pain. If Upward Plank feels too intense, take some time to master poses like Reverse Tabletop and Bridge pose to build up strength and improve your mobility. In a complex pose like Purvottanasana, it’s easy to forget to breathe due to extreme concentration, so focus on steady, rhythmic breathing. Finally, make sure your wrists are thoroughly warmed up before attempting this pose. Alternatively, make fists and rest the weight on your knuckles.

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