Twelve Days of Yoga: On the 8th Day

“On the 8th day of yoga, my guru gave to me…

8 chaturangas
7 chakras tuning
6 heavy breathers
5 minute peace

4 flying crows
3 om’ing om oms
2 turtle poses
and a Hanuman in a coconut tree.

chaturangaNot to boast but I often get asked by students how they can get toned arms and get stronger faster.  They ask if they should do double chaturangas.  To that I say,  “whoaaaaa there yogi…”

First, lets make sure you’re doing your chaturanga correctly before you decide to do two of them incorrectly.  What makes me cringe more than nails on a chalk board is misaligned chaturangas and then to watch them do two of them.  Eeeeek!!!



Let’s look at the basic alignment and note the risk factors:

1.  shoulders hover at about elbow level, not lower

2.  shoulders square and not rounding forward — shoulder blades draw down the back and broad across back.

3.  balance on balls of the feet — heels moving forward

4.  engage your quads — lift the kneecaps

5.  pull lower belly up

6.  neck is long — gaze forward

Chaturanga is also known as four limbed staff pose so keep the whole body strong like a staff.  Integrate the strength of the upper body and lower body.  The whole body moves as one unit.

Risk factors:

1.  if your elbows stick out like wings, you risk straining your shoulders, elbow joints and wrists

2. if your belly sags, you risk straining your lower back

3. if your mid torso sags, you risk crunching your neck and upper back

So unless you can lower your body down as one strong unit, I’d advise to not do double chaturangas.  Build strength quicker by dropping your knees and focus on aligning your upper body and arms and engaging your belly.  Remember, you’re not a whimp if you drop your knees.  I’d say you’re smarter as you’ll laugh all the way to shavasana with healthy shoulders than those eager folks who think they’re getting stronger faster by doing double chaturangas as if they’re trying to win the strained rotator cuff race.

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