Upward Facing Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)

Learn how to practice and teach Upward Facing Plank Pose (Purvottanasana) with detailed anatomy and informed verbal cues to help you and your students enter and exit with safe alignment.

Sanskrit name: Purvottanasana

English translation: Intense Stretch of the East Side Pose or Upward Facing Plank Pose

About the Pose

  • Symmetrical backbend with arm support
  • Stretches the front body and contracts the back body
  • Is a good counterpose for forward bends
  • Brings awareness to and uses many typically unused muscles

Upward Facing Plank Pose

Instructions from Dandasana

  1. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, as far away from your pelvis as possible. Bring your feet together.
  2. Place your hands on the floor about 10-12 inches behind you with your fingertips pointing toward your buttocks. Roll your shoulders back and down. Broaden and lift your chest.
  3. Press down with your feet and hands and lift your hips off the floor toward the ceiling.
  4. Keep your abdomen engaged, lift your chest, and let your head drop back. Rotate your thighs inward, push your tailbone toward the ceiling, and firmly squeeze your ankles toward each other.
  5. To exit the pose: Soften your buttocks, bend your knees, and lower your hips to the floor.

Watch For

  • Pelvis sagging or “getting stuck” in table top due to feet and hands starting too close together
  • Cramping in soles of feet or calves. Modification: Back out of the pose to the point of no cramping and work to develop necessary strength to move deeper into the pose.
  • Not enough strength to lift the hips and/or chest. Modification: Practice Reverse Table Top as an initial stage of the pose to develop strength.
  • Discomfort or tension in neck when releasing the head back. Modification: Keep the back of the neck long or the chin tucked.



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