We all have one, maybe more than one, but usually there is that one pose (asana) that no matter how many times we have tried it we just can’t seem to get into it the way we would like to. For me, it is Upward Plank Pose (in Sanskrit it is called Purvottanasana), which is a counter pose for a seated forward bend.
To come into this pose you sit with your legs stretched out in front of you; with fingers facing forward towards your feet place your hands so palms are on the floor a few inches behind your hips. On an inhale, slowly begin to lift your pelvis, with straight legs, toes are pointed and touching while also keeping them flat on the floor; press strongly into your palms as you keep your arms straight, chest lifting up and back, , and your head dropping back to follow the movement of your chest. Ideally this pose should be held for five breaths.
This pose truly offers it all – it opens the chest, and is an intense stretch for our back, core and legs, while simultaneously strengthening our shoulders and arms. However, given the strength this pose takes, anyone who has experienced wrist, shoulder, leg, hip, neck, or arm discomfort or pain will want to be cautious when coming into this pose and may choose to do a variation such as tabletop instead.
My difficulty is I am unable to keep my feet and toes flat on the floor as I lift my pelvis and chest, all the while keeping my legs straight. If you are experiencing this same limitation when coming into Upward Plank Pose, I have started using the following sequence to help better prepare my body and you may benefit from it as well. I begin by sitting in a cross-legged pose, stretching my shoulders using Cow Face Arms for five breaths; I continue by laying back into Reclining Hero Pose to achieve a deep stretch in my hip flexors, thighs and core for five breaths; I then come into Bridge Pose to stretch my chest, neck and spine for five breaths; and finally, I attempt Upward Plank Pose to the best of my ability for five breaths. If you would like additional information on anything included in this sequence please let me know. I find this stretching sequence targets the many muscles utilized during Upward Plank Pose and allows a smoother transition when coming into the pose itself. Of course, given the core strength this asana requires my focus remains on strengthening my abdomen to achieve the full expression of this pose.
If you are looking for ideas and suggestions for poses and stretches that can help you come into your “dreaded pose” better, please let me know.
~The divine in me salutes the divine in you, Namaste~