Reverse Table Pose, also known as "Half Upward Plank Pose," is a yoga posture that stretches the front side of the body and strengthens the core and arm muscles. It is a great pose to counteract a long day of forward-facing action, such as computer work, driving, and traveling. Reverse Table also restores balance to the body after sports and activities that require forward motion, such as swimming, biking, or playing tennis.
This pose goes by several different English names, including "Tabletop," "Crab," and "Half Reverse Plank." Reverse Table is a variation of Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana) that is more suitable for beginners and for those with less core strength and flexibility. In Sanskrit, this pose is called "Ardha Purvottanasana" (ARD-uh PUR-voh-tun-AHS-uh-nuh), which means "Half Intense East Stretch." This comes from five words:
- "Ardha" — meaning "half"
- “Purva” — meaning “east"
- “Ut” — meaning “intense”
- “Tan” — meaning “to stretch”
- “Asana” — meaning “pose”
The ancient yogis considered the front side of the body the "east" side because they would practice yoga while facing the sun as it rose in from the east. Ardha Purvottanasana stretches the entire "east" side of the body! Keep reading to learn more about this pose.
Benefits of Reverse Table Pose
Reverse Table provides a deep stretch to the upper body, including your shoulders, chest, abdomen, and spine. This pose will build strength throughout all the core muscles and the muscles surrounding the spine. It also improves balance and posture. Additionally, it will strengthen the wrists, arms, buttocks, legs, and back. Opening up the entire front side of the body is invigorating and energizing, which provides relief from fatigue and stress.
Step back from judgment and you will marvel at what transpires through you. If you are open, you will find more faith in what you do not know than in what you do know.
Do not practice Reverse Table if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, or a shoulder, neck, or wrist injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your arms resting at your sides in Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana).
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your hands several inches behind your hips, shoulder-width apart. Press your palms flat, and turn your fingertips inward so they point in the same direction you are facing (toward your toes).
- Inhaling, press firmly into your hands and feet. Straighten your elbows, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Draw your shoulder blades firmly into your back and lift your chest. Try to bring your chest, torso, and knees into one straight line, parallel to the floor.
- Keep your legs active and firm, but do not squeeze your buttocks. Press down through all ten toes.
- If you are comfortable here, then gently drop your head back so the crown of your head faces the floor. Gaze gently at the wall behind you. Breathe softly.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths. To release, slowly lower your hips to the mat. Extend your legs and come back into Dandasana.
Modifications & Variations
Reverse Table will build arm and core strength, improve balance and posture, and stretch out your whole body! It might take a while to build up enough strength and flexibility to hold the pose for more than a breath or two, so remember to take it slowly and work within your means. Try these simple changes to find a variation that is suitable for you:
- Only lift your hips as high as your body currently allows. Never force the pose.
- If you're having trouble keeping your hips lifted, place a yoga block, bolster, or stack of blankets under your hips to support your pelvis. Allow your weight to rest on the block. Gradually lift your hips as you build strength.
- Students with less strength and/or flexibility can also practice the pose with their hands on the edge of a chair that is secured against a wall. Hold onto the edges of the chair seat, then lift into the pose.
- More experienced students can try keeping the buttocks relaxed in the pose, using only the thigh muscles to lift the hips.
- More advanced students can extend the legs straight forward into Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana). Come into Reverse Table. Then, keep the hips lifted high as you completely straighten both legs in front of you. Press down through the toes and try to place the soles of the feet on the floor.
Practicing Reverse Table can be invigorating! It will open up the entire front side of your body when practiced correctly. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Keep your shoulder blades moving in toward each other. This will help to lift your chest.
- Press your feet evenly into the floor. Do not roll to the outer edges of your feet.
- Your thighs should be active and engaged throughout the pose.
- Press down through each knuckle.
- Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists.
- If your neck hurts or feels compressed, do not drop your head back. Instead, tuck your chin slightly toward your chest.
- Keep your arms straight and fully engaged. Do not collapse into your shoulders.
Turn the Table
Reverse Table can be a useful pose to counteract the forward slouch that results from sitting and forward-facing actions. Reaching the arms behind the body can provide a deep stretch to the chest, which improves posture over time. Regularly practicing Reverse Table can help you stand tall all day long!