Reverse Tabletop Pose (Ardha Purvottanasana)

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Reverse Tabletop Pose, Ardha Purvottanasana, (are-dah – pur-voh-tun-ahs-anna)

Ardha (half) + Purva (east) + Ut (intense) + Tan (stretch) + Asana (pose)

Also Known as: Half Intense East Stretch, Crab Pose

Pose Type: Balancing, Strengthening, Seated

Difficulty: Beginner

a man wearing black yoga pants doing reverse tabletop pose

Release tension from your shoulders and build your foundation in Reverse Table Top

Reverse Tabletop Pose Fundamentals

Reverse the effects of prolonged sitting and open your heart with this beautiful heart opener. 

Reverse Table Top creates space in the front of the body and strengthens the arms, shoulders, and back body. It is an easier variation of the Upward Plank Pose, and shares most of its benefits. 

The pose is quite challenging for the neck and head, and you will need to be focused on good alignment to feel supported throughout your entire spine. 

This pose is ideal for anyone who tends to slouch when sitting and will counteract all forward-facing actions.

Besides sitting, that also involves lifting weights, biking, running, and playing some sports like tennis. It may also aid in preventing kyphosis – a spinal condition that creates a hunchback appearance. 

By encouraging you to create a neutral spine and releasing tension from the chest and shoulders, the Reverse Table Top Pose will aid in improving your posture.

If that is your goal, you will need to practice the pose continuously. Spend a couple of breaths in the asana every day, even when you are not feeling you want to go through an entire yoga class. 

The Sanskrit name of the pose translates to “Half Intense East Stretch”. The word “half” talks about Reverse Table Top Pose as an easier version of the Upward Plank, and the word “east” refers to the traditional practice of yoga which involves facing the sun. 

Reverse Tabletop & Energetics

The pose is a heart opener and activities the Anahata (heart) chakra.

Exposing your chest in this way may make you feel vulnerable, especially if you are not used to it.

Still, allowing yourself to open your front body will lead to a release of pent-up emotions, which will make you feel lighter and open space for new energy and transformation.

Working on the heart chakra will also increase love, serenity, creativity, compassion, and consciousness. 

Reverse Tabletop Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the abs, arms, pelvis, back, glutes, legs, arms, and neck.
  • Opens and releases tension from the wrists, shoulders, and chest.   
  • Stimulates the internal organs of the lower abdomen and the heart. 
  • The awareness of correct alignment may help you overcome the habit of slouching and build a healthier posture.
  • Prepares the body for more intense chest openers such as Wheel Pose

How To Do Reverse Tabletop Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1.Begin in a seated position, such as Easy Pose or Staff Pose.

2. Bend your knees, facing them towards the ceiling, and place your feet on the ground around hip-width distance apart.

3. Place your arms slightly behind your hips and face your hands towards your feet.

4. With an inhale, lean back and lift the hips off the ground. Your knees and toes should still be pointing forward.

5. Here, you have the option to gaze towards the knees, up, or to release your head back. Choose the one that feels best for you.

6. Keep pressing the ground with your feet and arms, and squeeze your thighs and glutes. Engage the Mula Bandha to lift the hips more.

7. Hold the pose for 3 to 5 breaths and release.

an annotated image of a man in reverse tabletop pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • In the full expression of the pose, the whole torso is parallel to the floor. However – don’t force that. Instead, listen to your body, and lift your hips only as much as feels right.
  • Bring your shoulder blades close together to lift the chest.
  • Press into the floor evenly with all corners of your palms and feet. 
  • Keep your thighs engaged and pushing towards each other for the entire duration of the pose – this is where you will get most of your strength.
  • Keep your wrists directly below your shoulders.
  • If your neck hurts when you’re dropping the head, tuck the chin into your chest instead.
  • Keep your arms active and extended, but don’t lock the elbows.

Reverse Tabletop Pose Variation:

Reverse Tabletop Pose Variation: On A Chair

a man doing reverse tabletop pose on a chair

The pose may also be practiced with help of a chair. This variation will help those who lack strength or flexibility to reach the full expression of the asana.

Use a stable chair and secure it against a wall. Then sit in front of the chair, and hold the edge of the seat with your hands.

From there, lift your hips off the floor, keeping them parallel to the ground just as you would for the classic Reverse Table Top Pose. 

Reverse Table Top Pose Variation: With Props

If you struggle to keep your hips up, use yoga blocks, a bolster, or a stack of pillows and place them under the hips for support.

Rest them on the block and only lift them when you feel strong enough. 

Reverse Tabletop Pose Variation: Upward Plank Pose

a man doing upward plank pose

When you feel ready, you can also progress into the full expression of the pose which is Upward Plank.

You can either begin from Reverse Table Top Pose, and extend your legs one at a time, or begin from Staff Pose and lift your hips with legs extended.

Press into the feet as you lift off, and attempt to put the entire soles of the feet on the ground.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Knees splaying outward. Keep your thighs engaged and pushing towards each other to ensure your knees are facing forward and not out. 

Hands too far out. When placing your hands on the floor, put them slightly behind your hips but in the same line as your shoulders – you don’t want them to be too wide.

Forcing the head drop. Although the pose calls for dropping the head back, don’t do that if it causes too much compression or any pain in the neck. Instead, keep the neck neutral or slightly tuck the chin. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Neck Injury

Avoid practicing the pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, as it may be too taxing on the wrists. Also refrain from practice if you have an injury in the neck, wrists, or shoulders.

Related Poses

Upward Plank Pose

Wheel Pose

Bridge Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Staff Pose

Cobra Pose

Easy Pose

Counter Poses:

Seated Forward Bend

Cow Face Pose

Plow Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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