Chaturanga (short for Chaturanga Dandasana, which is Sanskrit for “Four-Limbed Staff Pose”) is a pose that requires ample core and upper body strength. Avoid injuries to the rotator cuffs by following these steps:
- Start with your knees on the floor and hands about shoulder-width apart.
- Spread the fingers apart to distribute the weight evenly which will help avoid putting too much weight on the outer part of the hands near the pinky.
- Straighten one leg at a time as you come to Plank with heels lifted and toes curled onto the floor.
- Make sure the hips aren’t lifted high; you should be one straight line from head to heels.
- Keep the abdominals tight.
- As you inhale, shift your weight forward.
- As you exhale, lower your body as you bend the elbows to 90 degrees, keeping them close to the body and pointed straight back.
- Return to Plank as you inhale.
Keep the core active the entire time. While in Plank, think of pushing the ground away with your hands which allows the shoulder blades to spread apart to avoid the chest from collapsing down.
If you’re working up to doing a proper Chaturanga, here are some core and upper body-strengthening exercises:
- Complete all 5 steps (above) with knees on the ground. Avoid crossing at the ankles and lifting the feet off the ground; this can cause you to roll back and forth on the knee caps.
- Complete steps 1-3, shifting the weight back and forth while in plank.
- Do incline tricep push-ups against the wall, using proper form.
- Do tricep dips using a chair or a bench.
Next time you’re in a yoga class, smile a little, knowing that “plop-to-faceplant” will NOT be part of your Sun Salutations!