Pose of the month: Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga dandasana. It's one of the few poses that doesn't need to be translated from its Sanskrit form when called out during yoga class. Maybe you let out a sigh (mistaken for an exhale) as you make the long and agonizing trek down to the mat. If this is you, fear not. With these tips, your chaturanga will no longer be a pose you avoid like the plague, but a pose that you look forward to and perform with a smile (that last part might not be completely true.) With patience and practice, you CAN and WILL conquer chaturanga dandasana (your new mantra for the month).
#1. Minor shifts=Big changes
Before you even start to lower down into chaturanga, check out your foundation in plank. Make sure your shoulders are stacked above your wrists, your entire core is engaged, ribcage is drawing in, and you're activating your quads. Roll forward on your toes to shift your weight ever so slightly forward so that your shoulders are now slightly in front of the wrists. I'm sure you're saying "make up your mind, lady!", but just trust me. Shifting your weight slightly forward ensures that you're able to bring your arms to a 90 degree angle, but I digress. With your weight shifted slightly forward, THEN start to lower down, which brings us to the next tip.
#2. Elbows, elbows, elbows!
Starting where we left off - lowering down from plank into chaturanga. Begin to bend your elbows while continuing to keep the abs and quadriceps engaged. Keep your elbows tucked in towards your ribs as you lower down, bending at your elbows. Engage your triceps and biceps - this is your brake system that keeps you from crashing and burning. Many people try to lower down with their elbows out to the side (like in a regular push up), which causes you to bear more weight than you should in the shoulders. Repeating offenses of bearing too much weight in your shoulders can potentially lead to "blown out" shoulders, ligament tears, and a slew of other problems. No bueno.
#3. Safe shoulders, happy yogi.
This is probably the most important tip Keep your shoulders safe and happy, thus ensuring your happiness. How do you do that, you ask? Well, happy shoulders are made from proper shoulder alignment. Starting from the beginning in plank pose, activate your serratus anterior to keep the scapulae flat on your back, preventing them from "winging" out. While in chaturanga, draw your shoulders down and back, keeping the top of your shoulders up & pointing ahead instead of drooping towards the floor.
#4. Don't be afraid to modify
Its OK if you can't do it yet (because you eventually CAN and WILL) as there are modifications that you can do to achieve this pose. Check out this great article below from Yoga Journal on modifications and more tips to a proper chaturanga. I look forward to seeing your smiling, chaturanga faces in class!
Remember the Twisted Bodies Crew is always happy to help!
For more tips and information visit The Yoga Journal Online!
Written by Twisted Yogi Lindsey Lambert. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks each month!