Build Your Upper Body Strength With Chaturanga

The physical poses in yoga are SO much harder than I’ve ever made them. In fact, remember this post? I am pictured doing a one arm medicine ball push-up and I thought I was strong. And, I am, I suppose. However, being strong in a standard push-up does not translate to a strong Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose). A Vinyasa Flow is a series of poses that are done repeatedly. Usually at the beginning of a practice. They are used to warm up the body, prepare the body for what is coming, and from a teaching standpoint, you can prepare your students here on what’s up the road. ({Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Bend, Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Facing Dog to Down Dog- also know as Surya Namaskara A} see article for full description.)}

The following is a photo essay of a small piece of what I learned this weekend (as we spent the entire weekend focusing on Surya Namaskara A & B). This has been a huge learning experience for me and I learn more as I write about it and as I look at myself in pictures here. Bottom line, ENGAGE everything and think about what you are doing. A lot of teachers don’t instruct in the warm-ups so when done repeatedly for years, if done incorrectly, it could lead to injuries- particularly in the rotator cuffs and low backs.

In Plank Position here and it’s far from perfect!

*Shoulders need to roll back and bring the scapulas together in the back.

*Neck needs to be in line with the spine & look forward

*Lower belly should be engaged

*Upper arms should be tight and engaged

From Plank Pose- rock forward on toes so that the weight is more in the front of the body. Hands should be directly beneath the shoulders and closer together than you might think. Lower down so that the elbows are hugging the body and everything is engaged! Shoulders need to remain rolled back. Open the collarbones and press the sternum forward. Keep the spine long, the butt muscles reaching towards feet and you be pressing down firmly into the earth with your hands. From Chaturanga push up through the hands and transition to upward facing dog pose. Mine is NOT good. There should be an arch in my back (my cyclists back is completely evident here). Shoulders again need to roll back. You can see that I am holding a lot of weight in my hands and it’s not transferred around the body. Think of the sternum pressing up and opening the heart towards the toy room! There is an amazing amount of strength involved in doing Chaturanga correctly. In a flow class, it is likely that you could do as many as 20 or more in a 90 minute class. Are you doing yours correctly? Today, take a minute and try one correct Chaturanga but do not trust my instructions, read a complete how to on Yoga Journal.

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