Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Asanas (Yoga Poses) Glossary

I. What is Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose)?

Purvottanasana, also known as Upward Plank Pose, is a yoga asana that involves a deep backbend and a strong engagement of the arms and legs. The name “Purvottanasana” is derived from the Sanskrit words “purva,” which means east or front, “uttana,” which means intense stretch, and “asana,” which means pose. This pose is often included in yoga sequences to help strengthen the arms, wrists, shoulders, and legs, while also stretching the chest, shoulders, and front body.

II. How to Perform Purvottanasana?

To perform Purvottanasana, follow these steps:

1. Begin seated on the mat with your legs extended in front of you.
2. Place your hands behind your hips with your fingers pointing towards your feet.
3. Press into your hands and feet as you lift your hips towards the ceiling.
4. Engage your core muscles and legs to support your backbend.
5. Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.
6. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, then slowly release back to the starting position.

III. What are the Benefits of Practicing Purvottanasana?

Practicing Purvottanasana offers a variety of benefits for the mind and body, including:

1. Strengthens the arms, wrists, shoulders, and legs.
2. Stretches the chest, shoulders, and front body.
3. Improves posture and alignment.
4. Stimulates the digestive organs.
5. Increases energy and vitality.
6. Builds confidence and self-esteem.

IV. What Muscles are Targeted in Purvottanasana?

Purvottanasana targets several key muscle groups, including:

1. Arms: The triceps, biceps, and forearms are engaged to support the weight of the body.
2. Shoulders: The deltoids and trapezius muscles are stretched and strengthened.
3. Chest: The pectoral muscles are stretched as the chest lifts towards the ceiling.
4. Core: The abdominal muscles are engaged to support the backbend.
5. Legs: The quadriceps and hamstrings are activated to lift the hips.

V. What are the Contraindications of Purvottanasana?

While Purvottanasana offers many benefits, there are some contraindications to be aware of, including:

1. Wrist or shoulder injuries: Individuals with wrist or shoulder injuries should avoid putting too much weight on their hands in this pose.
2. Neck injuries: Those with neck injuries should avoid dropping their head back in the pose.
3. High blood pressure: Individuals with high blood pressure should practice caution and avoid holding the pose for too long.
4. Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid deep backbends like Purvottanasana.

VI. How to Modify Purvottanasana for Different Levels of Practitioners?

For beginners, it may be helpful to practice Purvottanasana with a slight bend in the elbows or to use blocks under the hands for support. As practitioners become more comfortable with the pose, they can work towards straightening the arms and lifting the hips higher. Advanced practitioners may choose to deepen the backbend by dropping the head back or lifting one leg off the ground.

In conclusion, Purvottanasana is a powerful yoga pose that offers a wide range of benefits for the body and mind. By practicing this pose regularly and with proper alignment, practitioners can strengthen their muscles, improve their posture, and increase their energy levels. Remember to listen to your body and modify the pose as needed to ensure a safe and effective practice.