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.
Note: if you are a beginner struggling with Purvottanasana, practice your posture with the support of a chair. Sit near the front edge of the seat and wrap your hands around the back edge. Inhale as you lift your pelvis, then straighten each leg with an inhale.
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your hands several inches behind your hips and your fingers pointing forward. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, big toes turned inward, heels at least a foot away from your buttocks. Exhale, press your inner feet and hands down against the floor, and lift your hips until you come into a reverse tabletop position, torso and thighs approximately parallel to the floor, shins and arms approximately perpendicular. Without losing the height of your hips, straighten your legs one at a time. Lift your hips still higher without hardening your buttocks. Press your shoulder blades against your back torso to support the lift of your chest. Without compressing the back of your neck, slowly drop your head back. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then sit back down in Dandasana with an exhale.