Incline Plank
PŪRVOTTĀNĀSANA (पूर्वोत्तानासन)
(poohr-VOHT-tan-AHH-sah-nah)

 


‘Pūrva’= front or east, ‘ut’= intense, ‘tan’= to stretch, lengthen, or extend, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Upward Plank Pose
Incline Plane Pose
Inverted Plank Pose
Intense Stretch to the East Pose
East Intense Stretch Pose
Intense East Side Stretch

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Pose Type: Supine / Back-Bend / Stretch / Hip Opener / Inversion / Balance

1. Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana), seated with your legs extended straight. Make sure to bring your shoulder blades back so that your shoulders are down and under your ears, with your spine extended.
2. Keeping your back straight, slightly lean back, and place your hands behind your hips (about shoulder width apart), pointing your fingers toward your sit bones.
3. Begin to walk your hands back about 6-8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) lining up your wrists with your shoulders. Spread your fingers to root down into the mat.
4. Open your chest, drawing your shoulder blades together and keeping your shoulders back and down.
5. Bend your knees so that the soles of your feet are flat on the ground, about hip distance apart.
6. Take a deep breath, keeping your wrists lined up under your shoulders, and press your weight into your hands and feet. Exhale as you push your hips and sternum up toward the sky and into Reverse Tabletop (Ardha Purvottanasana).
7. Step your feet forward, one at a time, fully extending your legs and keeping the soles of your feet down to the mat. Be sure not to lock your knees or elbows. Spread your toes and ground your feet to the mat.
8. Keep the back of your neck in alignment with your spine and gaze up (or you can carefully hang your head back, whichever is more comfortable).
9. Lengthen through the crown of your head, down your body, and through your toes. Your body should be completely lifted off the mat at a 45-degree angle from your toes straight up to the crown of your head (or your chin if you extend your head back).
10. Squeeze your glutes in towards your hips, tuck in your tailbone, and push your navel to your spine. Use your core muscles to keep alignment and balance and squeeze your inner thighs.
11. Hold this pose for several breaths (about 20 seconds to build strength).
12. When ready, exhale and slowly release back into Staff Pose (Dandasana).

Common Adjustments
• Knees and/or elbows hyperextended
• Knees and/or elbows not straight
• Neck and/or shoulders strained
• Pelvis down instead of pushed up (sagging hips) / not squared to the sky
• Feet and toes not flat the ground / Unbalanced
• Chest not lifted

Modifications
• Students with discomfort in their wrists or shoulders, can turn their shoulders and hands so that their fingers are pointing away from the body instead of toward the hips. Alternatively, they can form a fist and rest on their knuckles to keep their wrists straight.
• For beginners, students who cannot place their feet fully flat on the ground, or students who need to build strength in their legs, abdomen, or arms, they can either: a) practice with their hands on blocks, b) practice Reverse Table Top (Ardha Purvottanasana), or c) they can follow steps 1-5 above, and then, instead of fully the lifting their hips, they should lift only as high as is comfortable.
• Students who experience tightness in their ankles, or cramping, can dorsiflex their feet.
• Students who have trouble keeping their hips up and in line with their spine can place a block under their feet and then press down. Alternatively, they can place a block or bolster under their hips for support.
• For students that have difficulty getting to the floor, have knee or hip weakness or discomfort, or need help balancing, they can practice sitting at the edge of a chair. Have the student extend their legs out in front of them and then grip onto the back edges of the seat to raise the hips.
• Students with a neck injury can support their head by practicing by a wall or placing their head on a chair.

Counter Poses
• Plank (Phalakasana)
• Low Plank or Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
• Corpse (Savasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana)
• Staff Pose (Dandasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana) or Forward Bend, Seated Head to Knee (Janu Sirsasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated Wide Angle - Dragonfly (Upavistha Konasana)
• Forward Bend, Standing (Uttanasana) or Forward Bend, Standing Wide Leg (Prasarita Padottanasana)
• Half Forward Bend, Standing (Ardha Uttanasana)
• Lord of the Fishes, Half (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
• Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana)

Anatomy
• Neck and Shoulders (Deltoids)• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Biceps and Triceps
• Wrists• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic) and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Hips (Iliopsoas and Psoas Minor)• Gluteus Maximus and Medius
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles and Knees
• Ankles• Feet

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the shoulders, biceps, triceps, wrists, chest, spine, back, abdomen, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, ankles, ankle joints, and feet. This helps to relieve tension in the body.
• Opens the chest, neck / throat, and shoulders and strengthens the lungs, which helps with relaxing the throat, asthma, or respiratory problems.
• Reduces cramps in the calf muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings through repeated practice.
• Improves posture and alignment in the spine and shoulders as well as improves balance.
• Boosts energy
• Improves function of the thyroid gland, adrenal gland and thymus. This helps to improve the metabolic rate, increases blood supply, and maintains the immune system as well as helps menstrual discomfort.
• Stimulates the nervous system, which calms the brain, reducing stress and anxiety, as well as relieves mild depression, insomnia, and fatigue. This also helps improve focus and endurance.

Contraindications
1. Students, with High Blood Pressure, should not tilt their head back. If they do, they should practice with guidance.
2. Students with a neck, back, hip, arm, or wrist injury, are suffering from a migraine, have carpal tunnel, tendonitis, or have weakness in the elbow and wrist joints should avoid this pose or use modifications with guidance.

Chakras
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Purvottanasana – Reverse Plank, or Intense East-Side Stretch”.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Purvottanasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, this posture can be found in Chapter 13 – ARM SUPPORT POSES as “PURVOTTANASANA – Upward Plank Pose”.

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