Chaturanga is more than just a pushup. It’s an integral part of countless sequences across the many types of yoga. Since a proper chaturanga can benefit both your practice and your posture, it’s worth doing right. To understand common mistakes and proper form, we enlisted the help of Hannah Dawe of Love Yoga in Los Angeles.
What is chaturanga?
Chaturanga is a full-body pose that’s part of the vinyasa. You have to use your legs, core, upper body, and mental awareness to keep everything aligned. Chaturanga can be difficult for beginners and advanced yogis alike.
What kinds of mistakes do people make during chaturanga?
I see three main mistakes in my group classes. The first one is dipping the shoulder heads forward below the elbow line. Doing so collapses the smile of the chest and puts a lot of stress on the shoulder. To avoid shoulder dips, keep the collarbone lifted and the spine tall.
The second mistake is pitching the chin forward. It kind of looks like a PEZ dispenser head where the chin is far forward and the cervical spine excessively arches. You can fix this issue similarly to the last one. First, draw your shoulder blades down the back. Next, keep that smile across your collarbone so you’re not dipping into the shoulders and pitching your head forward.
Finally, the third mistake is a “booty pop,” aka sticking your butt in the air. Remember that you want your hips to be at shoulder height. So drop your hips down, lift the belly, and keep working the upper back.
How can yogis work toward improving their chaturangas?
I like to use blocks for support to build strength and improve form. You can set up the blocks at medium height across your mat. (If you don’t have blocks, you can stack some books to support the root of your thighbone.) Doing so takes weight out of the upper body and alleviates some pressure at the front of the shoulder.
Can you walk us through PROPER FORM?
To reiterate, a good chaturanga requires a super long spine. If you’re coming from down dog, shift forward to plank. Keep inching forward so your shoulders move past your wrists, then bend your elbows and tuck them in close to your sides. From there, flip over your toes to come into upward-facing dog. Widen the chest, keep your legs lifted, and engage your belly. Then tuck your toes back under to lift into plank and then back into downward-facing dog.
What are the benefits of a strong chaturanga?
Great things come out of practicing chaturanga the right way. You start to strengthen muscles that not only make you feel more empowered in your yoga practice, but also more aware of your posture throughout the day. Perhaps when you’re sitting in traffic, you’ll remember to roll your shoulders back to alleviate upper-back aches. Essentially, chaturanga works like good preventative medicine. It keeps you strong, aligned, and feeling good.