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Study Break Stretch

Have you been hunching over the computer trying to finish your midterm paper? Loosen up your shoulders and neck by trying out this yoga posture. You may be familiar with plank pose, but have you ever tried its inverse, upward plank pose? It is called Purvottanasana in Sanskrit, coming from the terms purva(east), uttana(intense stretch), and asana(pose). This posture opens up the chest, shoulders, and neck, while strengthening the muscles of the arms, legs, and wrists. It is great to practice after a long day of classes; this gentle backbend counteracts the curving of the spine from slouching. 

Steps:

Begin seated on the floor with your hands a few inches behind your hips. Have your fingers facing forwards or turn them slightly out to the sides if you have tight wrists. Bend at your knees and bring your feet in towards you so that they rest comfortably on the mat.

At the same time, press into the hands and feet to lift yourself up off the ground. Try and refrain from using your glutes to get you up, focusing on gaining power through your quadriceps. Lift into reverse table top, where your torso is parallel to the floor and your shins and arms extending straight down from knees and shoulders, respectively.

Either stay with bent legs or try the fullest expression to stretch the front of the ankles. (This requires a lot of wrist stability and strength, so make sure to honor your body if you have wrist injuries or carpel tunnel syndrome and stay with reverse table. The same benefits will be received if you remain in table).

Begin with your legs extended out fully in front of you. Hands go behind your hips, fingers facing towards you. Press into the palms and feet to lift up off of the floor, activating your legs and driving your toes towards the ground. You can also enter the full expression by extending one leg at a time once you are in reverse table. 

Draw the shoulder blades together to allow the chest to open. Keep lifting your hips without clenching your buttocks, active through the legs and core.

If comfortable in the posture and you have no neck injuries, slowly allow the head to drop back. Stay steady with your breath and find ease here. After 30 seconds, gently pull the head back up with control and lower yourself back down to the floor.

Practice frequently to cultivate a stronger mind and body!

Comment below with any questions or concerns.

Modifications with props available from yogajournal.com

Yoga guru, farmers market snob, vegan foodie, rock climber, and lover of anything free.
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