TGIF yogis!  This week’s fun pose friday we’ll break down Reverse Plank, known in Sanskrit as Purvottanasana.  This is a wonderful pose to balance out forward bends, or to help open up the chest and shoulders when you’ve been spending a lot of time behind a computer or in any seated position.

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(check out Sarah E rockin’ reverse plank in the sun!)

To get into Purvottanasana, start in a seated position on your mat. Extend the spine and legs long and then place your hands behind you. For more of a stretch in the wrist, turn fingertips toward your feet. To open the chest and shoulders more, turn fingers away from your body.

Once you’ve planted your hands, press down and lift your body up off the mat. Point your toes and push the bottoms of your feet down towards the ground. Lift hips and try not to allow the weight of your body to collapse into your shoulders. Make sure to keep shoulders stacked above your wrists.

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(wow! Sara C in a beautiful purvottanasana, taken at extendYoga)

Lengthen out the neck. If it feels okay, you can drop your head back and allow it to hang down. However if this is uncomfortable for your neck, keep the head lifted and in line with your body.

Hold for about 30 seconds and then slowly lower your hips to the mat with control.

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(Daisy {aka Yoga Nag} demoing another version of this pose: reverse table)

If it’s too difficult to lift your body up into Purvottanasana, then try practicing Reverse Table by bending your knees, and lifting the torso up, parallel to the ground.

If you’d like to make the pose more challenging, you can lift one leg up toward the ceiling, hold for several breaths, and then release and lift the other leg.

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(reverse plank sunny silhouette a-la Roni)

Benefits of Purvottanasana include:

•   Stretches the chest, shoulders and arms

•   Strengthens the muscles of your core, back, arms and legs

•   Can be therapeutic for fatigue or depression

Reverse Plank is not advised for anyone with carpal tunnel syndrome, or an injury to the shoulder or wrist.

For a tutorial on Purvottanasana, check out this video

Enjoy yogis! See you on the mat!