How to Improve Your Chaturanga….
The infamous Chaturanga Dandasana also known as the low plank or yoga push-up is a challenging pose to perform correctly. We thought perhaps you may be struggling with this pose too…. we know our buddy T-Rex is!!
But kidding aside, as teachers, this is one of the positions we see students struggle with, and we know from our personal practice, it’s easy to get it wrong and much harder to get it right. And given the number of times it is performed in a flowing vinyasa class, we are on a mission to see if we can help everyone get it right.
A great starting point is to ask yourself – when you walk out of a Yoga class, do the front of your shoulders ache, or do your triceps hurt? For a lot of people, the front the shoulder hurts, meaning you’ve incorrectly performed this position, similar to incorrectly performing a push-up. Dr. Adam Cohen, an Associate Professor of Medicine from the Mount Sinai Hospital and an orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist says “When the shoulders aren’t stabilized and positioned properly in a weight-bearing pose like Chaturanga, it can cause overuse injuries and more serious joint damage, due to the unique nature of the ball and socket joint. You’re putting stress on all the soft tissue in your shoulder.”
So incorrectly working this position might lead to shoulder injuries …. So we can all agree that is a very very good reason to slow down and get it right, right?
We’ve interviewed a few of our experienced teachers at Yoga Everyday and have asked them specifically about Chaturanga – and have dug deep for their best tips to get you practising this difficult pose correctly. Here we go – our 4 Big Best Tips to get you nailing your Chatarunga position ☺
1. Our unanimous first tip that we all strongly believe, and quite possibly the most important tip, is to always practice at your level and try not to worry about what anyone else is doing. Which means focusing on your alignment and trying not to rush through the position (even though we know how tempting it might be to just get it over…fast!) Meg says ‘go down slowly and have a strong core’. SO OUR BIG TIP NUMBER 1 IS : GO SLOW AND TRY TO FEEL THE POSITION
2. Jess says that “As you lower down (from high plank down to low plank) – move forward onto the tips of your toes, tucking your pelvis in” and Paula adds “you’ll probably need to come further forward than you think”. BIG TIP NUMBER 2 : BRING YOUR WEIGHT FAR FORWARD AND TUCK YOUR PELVIS
3. Brendan says to “Use your whole shoulder rather than just laying on the front of the joint; Press your hands down firmly; Hug your elbows together; Broaden your back & collar bones; Engage your belly and if you want to take it further ….give it a little bounce in chatarunga – but don’t bounce if you go past your elbows”. SO BIG TIP NUMBER 3,4,5,6,7 – Because well, there are a few tips in there!!!….think WHOLE SHOULDER, PRESS YOUR HANDS FIRMLY, BROADEN YOUR BACK, ENGAGE YOUR BELLY….
8. Meg, Brendan, Jess and Paula all say “Hug Your Elbows In” – SO OUR BIG TIP 8 is NO CHICKEN WINGS!! This isn’t KFC ☺
Finally, regardless of whether you are new to yoga, or you’ve been practicing for years, remember you are on a journey and you are still learning and there will always be lots to improve. So don’t get disheartened, believe in yourself, focus on your breath and have a go and watch it happen!
All is coming – all that is impossible will one day become possible.
Jess, Brendan, Meg and Paula all regularly teach at Yoga Everyday Stafford, a mix of Power, Vinyasa Yoga Flow and Yin Yoga Classes. Check out our timetable and feel free to ask them for more tips and specifics about Chatarunga, or any other position you’d like to work on. They are qualified, experienced and love helping students improve and take their practice to the next level.