Chaturanga Dandasana; dreading, dreading, dreading

aka, Hover or half plank, Low push up, it doesn’t matter what you call it Chaturanga is still a dreaded pose for yoga virgins. It’s a toughie, I get it, and even men sometimes have trouble with this one. But this pose isn’t all about strength; there is finesse to it as well. And remember this isn’t realllly a pose, nooo it’s not, it’s a transition between plank and cobra/updog. It’s a bridge from point A to point B, albeit, sometimes a shaky pre-Columbian art bridge AKA Romancing the Stone, but a bridge none the less.

Chaturanga builds strength in the obvious places, Triceps, upper back, chest, it is also a great core strengthener and since the foundation of Chaturaga is in  your plank pose, it has all the benefits of Plank as well. Starting in Plank;

  • shoulders over tops of hands
  • long line from crown of head to heels
  • belly drawn in, bandhas engaged
  • press down through the hands to create the lift in the body
  • use the bandhas in the hands too

Ok, now we’re all set up; go on, Chaturanga to your hearts content. Go ahead, lower down…I’ll wait…….

So? How many of you ended up doing ‘bellyflopasana’?

 Yea, like I said it’s a toughie. But this is where the finesse comes in, you have to keep your elbows close to the body as you lower down, otherwise you lose the work of the big muscles in the upper back.  If you’re just learning this pose or having trouble with it lower your knees to the mat. Seriously, lower your damn knees. Sorry, but why wont anyone do that? Did they have a teacher who rapped them on the head with a ruler if they modified a pose?

Look, if your belly is getting to the ground first (before the chest and chin) take  the knees to the ground before you start down, if you’re lowering the belly first you compromise the low back, put too much load on the shoulders and probably lock your elbows. You end up moving through the bones and not the muscles, so how are you getting any stronger if you aren’t using the muscles.    Sigh….

Tips for Chaturanga

  • keep your ears pulled back ( i.e. don’t drop your chin to your chest)
  • press the heart center forward, that helps keep the torso long
  • press the tail bone towards your heels, lengthen don’t tuck, that just flattens out your back, and ‘tucking’ is a whole ‘nother post
  • press down through the hands and engage Uddiyana Bandha as you lower down
  • keep the legs very active, Quads drawn up &  Hamstrings engaged

We wanna avoid this if possible. By tilting the shoulders down towards the finger tips, puts way to much load them.   To protect the shoulders you need to work towards getting a 90 degree angle in the elbows. So try this ….. As you start lowering down press forward out of your toes, that should shift your torso forward enough to get the 90 angle you are looking for in your elbows.

This is lovely Sadie Nardini  doing a damn near perfect Chaturanga. She Rocks for sure.

From that point you can keep pushing forward and roll over your toes into Cobra or Updog.

Happy Hovering 

OmShanti

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4 thoughts on “Chaturanga Dandasana; dreading, dreading, dreading

  1. Pingback: Developing your Home Practice……Cobra and Upward facing Dog, We’re in the home stretch now! « Cheryl's Yoga Shanti

  2. I alternate between using my knees or not depending on how I feel that day. I think a lot of folks are shy to modify poses because we still have that gym class mentality that turned all physical activity into competition. I wish there were a way to whisper in their ear – “This is your own dance. Let your body take the lead.”

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    1. I like that ‘this is your dance” nice, very nice. I have taught workshops on just using props. I have taught entire classes and simply told everyone to go the modified route, including me. It is the gym mentality, but also it’s human nature to always want to ‘succeed’, to push through a challenge and I like that about us humans, but trying to get folks to practice in a way that suits them is hard. And BTW I use my knees sometimes too.

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