April Pose of the Month: Chaturanga Dandasana

Love it?  Hate It?  What the Heck is it?
Chaturanga Dandasana

A Sanskrit to English translation is as follows:  chat = four, anga = limb and danda = staff so the direct translation is the Four Limb Staff Pose, also known as the infamous “yogi push up” or “half push up”.

No one can deny that this yogi push up is a power pose. It requires focus, strength, stamina, and the fire of your commitment.  It builds muscles from the wrists and hands, into the arms and upper back and throughout the core. When done with attentive alignment for a complete mindful breath (or more) there is such a fierceness and dedication required that staying present is not optional. Unfortunately, we often rush through with the mindset of getting this pose done and being quick about it because if you really think about it… Who really likes this pose anyway?  

The common, yet quick approach to Chaturanga Dandasana invariably leads to the creation of misaligned and habitual movement patterns. Because of this Chaturanga Dandasana is one of the primary poses that contribute to repetitive strain injuries (RSI) in yogis. Wrist issues, of the carpal tunnel variety, and shoulder issues, such as rotator cuff tears, often arise when Chaturanga is done repeatedly in misalignment over time. Over time being the key element here. Don’t despair, not all is lost, with awareness, education and practice we can prevent our own future suffering, work towards our own transformation and become more awake through the process.    

Lets consider this:

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Choose to move from unstable & collapsed to aligned & refined through some useful practice tips.

To practice, imprint these ideas first in non-weight bearing, so go ahead and prop up on a bolster, then move your new understanding into the yogi push up with your knees on the floor and finally try it out in its fiercest expression with the knees off of the floor. Don’t rush this process; it takes time to build strength and transform imbalances in the physical body. It would be smarter to commit to Knees Down Chaturanga in alignment than rush into knees off the floor before your muscles are attuned and ready, and if you are really attentive to the work and honest about it knees down is hard enough. Join us this month at Mighty Yoga as we build our proprioceptive awareness, educate and re-educate our bodies and practice with a compassionate heart. There really is no better way to practice the art of self-compassion than exploring the Yogi Push Up within the context of power-based flow. You might even learn to love it? 

By: Liz Heffernan

Interested in Pose Study? Consider Hanover Yoga Teacher Training with Heather and Liz. For more information visit our Teacher Training page or join us for an info session on Wednesday, April 22 at 7pm or Sunday, April 26 at 11:45am. 

Author, Liz Heffernan, is a bit of an alignment enthusiast and yoga activist intending to transform the world one mindful breath at a time. She teaches at Mighty Yoga Hanover and leads yoga teacher training programs at Mighty Yoga and in residential intensives offered in warm tropical settings.  Find out more about Liz at www.lizheffernan.com