No other foundational yoga pose has felt so hard to me as chaturanga (yoga push up) so I get it! It's not at the top of people's all time favorite yoga poses to be sure. Quite the opposite I think, but if you practice vinyasa yoga then you likely do chaturanga several times in a class. It is unique in that it is done as a transitional pose in sun salutations and vinyasas rather than a stand alone pose. Because we move through it and spend but a brief moment in it means there is not often a lot of verbal cues in a group drop-in class to help refine it.
Having a clearer understanding of what the upper body and shoulder girdle are doing in chaturanga will help you be able to move more competently through this pose and it will soon begin to feel more balanced and sustainable - it will also give you the strength and stability needed to move into more complex arm balances where the arms are positioned in chaturanga (think side crow or flying pigeon).
I respect the hell out of chaturanga. It's a hard pose. It asks a lot of the front, sides and back of the upper body and since we do it A LOT in vinyasa yoga it is well worth digging into for a closer look. NOTE: We don't get better at chaturanga by doing it the same way we've always done it. By regressing the pose you'll progress much faster so grab a block and don't be afraid to do your chaturanga with knees down (half plank). The refined muscle engagement you'll build is worth the edit! See below for more of my best quick tips on refining your chaturanga.
This December I'll be focusing on the upper body and shoulder girdle in all my public classes. We'll be looking at sustainable shoulder alignment in common yoga poses like chaturanga and downward facing dog and discussing "push-pull" muscles.
Colder weather + hectic holiday schedules can mean stress and tension creep into your upper body and effect posture. Join me at Modo Yoga Cincinnati to explore, strengthen and open the upper body.
- Regress to Progress! We don't get better at chaturanga by doing chaturanga the same way we've always done it. Be willing to change up your default.
- Take gravity out of the equation, by first practicing the arm and shoulder alignment of chaturanga from a standing, seated or reclined position. Feel your shoulders drawing down onto your back body and register the engagement of your arms hugging in towards your ribcage. See the hands flexed and spread wide. Close your eyes, let this land in the body. Breathe.
- Add some gravity. Now from high plank pose lower your knees to the mat (half plank) and with the same strong upper body alignment lower into chaturanga. I love working on chaturanga from half plank. It's a great way to refine and strengthen the pose.
- Use a block. The picture above shows me using a block to help maintain alignment and build endurance in the upper body. Try it out and let me know what you think!
- Mindful that your shoulders do not dip down below your elbows.
- Mindful that your elbows do not go behind your back body.
Stay tuned for my shoulder workshop (and other offerings) coming early 2018!