Here’s another “Pose of the Week” that you will find in both Yoga and Pilates. Purvottanasana, otherwise known as Upward Plank or Reverse Plank has many variations so it makes it easy for all levels to add into their practice or workouts. The benefits of Purvottanasana are many: including opening and stretching the chest and shoulders, strengthening the wrists and arms (particularly the triceps), engaging and strengthening the core, glutes and lower back, and stretching the hamstrings and the fronts of the legs.
I’m doing a more advanced version in the picture above (not easy on those rocks I tell ya!), where you can come into full Reverse Plank and then extend one leg up for a few seconds/breaths, and then switch the legs, extending the other up. The beginner or modified version would be to keep the feet flat and knees bent, coming into a reverse table top, just lifting the hips up. You can look down, tucking the chin to the chest, or let the head fall back naturally.
To come into Purvottanasana, sit the hips down on the mat, legs extended in Dandasana/Staff Pose. Place the hands behind you, underneath the shoulders, and fingers facing forward. Now bend the knees with feet flat on the floor. Inhale and the lift the hips off of the mat coming into a reverse table top. You can stay here or take the full pose by slowly extending the legs long down the mat one at a time, keeping the hips lifted. Roll the shoulders back, lift the heart up, lift the hips up and strengthen and lengthen the legs all the way down the mat, so you look like a flat plank. Hold for 10 breaths (you can extend the right leg up into the air for 5 breaths, and then switch legs, extending the left leg up for another 5 breaths).
To come out of this, tuck the chin to the chest, and slowly lower the hips down to the mat. Fold over your bent knees, let the back roll out and take a couple breaths. I like to do this before or after Shoulder Bridge.