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Yoga

44 | The Core Challenges of Chaturanga


In today’s episode we are talking all about the chaturanga, and I am so excited! The chaturanga is a major component of Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and truly any power yoga class. The reason for this episode is because the pose itself has become a pretty interesting conversational topic over the years, and I want to shed some informed light on it.

What is chaturanga?

The English name of chauranga is “four limbed staff pose,” but chaturanga is just more fun to say! When performed correctly, the body does look like a staff. This pose is powerful. When people say that they aren’t good at doing this pose, I really think they need to dig into why they feel this way; usually it comes down to flexibility and strength.

How can this be remedied?

As teachers and practitioners, we need to be teaching a few things, and one being that this pose is not necessary. If chaturanga is something that will be a pose within your sequence, then you need to offer a great guide to help students, and to also be okay with modifications and the language around them.

What am I seeing that is hurting more than helping?

Tipping center mass is a smart strategy, because you aren’t working as hard, but it can be damaging to your shoulders and possibly for your low back. I’m also seeing people over-squeezing their elbows in towards their ribs, which internally rolls your shoulders down– not what you want to do!

Why are people shifting forward to lower from plank?

Many classes will have you jump directly into chaturanga because it’s healthier than jumping back into plank because your back could be injured. I’ve also seen this be taught where you walk or jump into plank, and then shift forward before you lower. This is because you are supposed to be keeping your elbows in line with your wrist, and this sequence forms a ninety degree angle.

Neither of these sequences make sense to me– jumping right into chaturanga loses a lot of value. Being able to jump back and lower is a really adaptable move in a few ways, and it causes you to lose potential as well as creating a lot of demand on the front of your shoulder.

How do I teach chaturanga?

Keep a neutral spine the entire way, bring your hands directly under your shoulders, then walk or jump back and lower. In this lowering, your triceps are getting a chance to decelerate, and your seradius a chance to also eccentrically contract.   Practice this: Bring your hands under your shoulders, walking your feet back without moving the shoulders. Once here, ensure your spine feels like it’s in the long, staff-like position, and lift up. Bend the elbows and lower until your elbows are around the same line as your shoulders. See if you can hold this before lowering to the floor. If this is too difficult, lower your knees first.

Resources:
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