Purvottanasana means intense eastward facing stretch. As the sun “rises in the east and sets in the west,” the east is known as the direction of new beginnings and budding potential. In Upward Plank Pose, we draw on the strength of the core and leg muscles, as well as the support of the shoulders beneath the heart. Unlike the downward dog that is commonly practised, the upward plank pose is an intermediate pose and practised less often.
However, the purvottanasana has many benefits:
1. Strengthens the arms and legs
– While holding purvottanasana, the entire body is balanced on the hands and legs. The arms are kept straight with extreme pressure on the wrists. The inner thighs, glutes, and calf muscles are stretched throughout the pose.
– It expands these muscles and enhances endurance, thereby making the arms and legs stronger.
2. Opens the chest
– The shoulders muscles are also stretched to keep the hands on the floor balancing the body. It expands the chest and dropping the head backward uplifts the heart. It improves the heart rate and circulatory system.
3. Stimulates respiratory organs
– The opening of the chest expands the internal organs including the lungs. The expansion of the lungs enhances the supply of oxygen. This eventually improves breathing capacity and hence stimulates the respiratory system.
4. Improves spine flexibility
– The back and hips are lifted off the floor. The entire back is stretched immensely by pulling the spine towards the neck as well as pushing the feet away from the body.
– These counter forces help in elongating the entire spine improving its flexibility.
5. Maintains metabolism
– In purvottanasana, the thyroid gland is activated. It helps in optimum secretion of thyroid hormones, that regulate the metabolism of the body.
6. Provides a toned body
– Purvottanasana is an intense stretch for the entire body. It stretches all the muscles extending from toes to the neck. Balancing the body on hands and feet requires enough strength and burns calories.
– It helps in getting rid of fat accumulated around the thighs, hips, abdomen, and chest region.
7. Activates the Anahata chakra
– The expansion of the chest muscles in the pose provides energetic benefits. It stimulates the heart chakra (Anahata). It benefits the heart, lungs, along with improving the immune system by stimulating the thymus.
– Also, brings positive feelings like happiness, love, and compassion to the practitioner.
Getting Into Purvottanasana:
- Start from a seated position with legs straightened (dandasana), toes pointing up (dorsiflexion of ankle joint).
- Place the palms about 5 inches behind the buttocks, fingers facing the back of the mat (extension of the wrist joint).
- Lift the buttocks off the mat, extend the shoulder joints, and feel the shoulder blades squeezing together (retraction of shoulder blades).
- The head can be tucked towards the chest (flexion of cervical spine) or dropped backwards (extension of the cervical spine).
- Place the soles of both feet (plantar flexion of the ankle joints) on the mat with the legs straight.
Joint Movement of the body in Purvottanasana
Image: Chloe A.