WHAT IS CHATURANGA AND WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING?
What is the best alignment for Chaturanga? First, let’s start with what this pose is. Chaturanga is both a yoga pose and a transition, otherwise known as a movement. A pose implies no movement, while a transition implies movement between two static postures. Because Chaturanga is used as both a static posture and a transition, it’s hard to have a universal conversation about it. We have to first agree on what it is in order to analyze. Globally, there is discussion about chaturanga and yet everyone has a different idea of what it is. Thus, there exists much controversy around correct alignment.
How could there be correct alignment when the posture is usually taught as movement from one pose to another? In modern vinyasa, this pose is used to go from plank to upward dog. In order for a movement to occur, it is a law of biomechanics that joint alignment has to change. If it doesn’t, then no movement can occur. SO, while there are many reasons to practice chaturanga as an isolated pose, that is not how most people are practicing it these days. It would be more useful to discuss how to move our bones and which muscles we can engage if we want a smooth flowing posture that minimizes risk to our joints.
CONFUSED BY GRAVITY
While movement is not complex, it can be confusing mostly because of our relationship to gravity. There are only there major joints that change: the elbows go from straight to bent, the arm bones go from being in front to by our side (flexion to neutral), and the shoulder blades go from protraction to retraction (more or less), explained in the video below. If you stand with your arms in front of you and simulate the same actions, there is nothing mysterious or complex, but add the weight of your body and gravity, and now it gets interesting.
While the joint actions are simply moving from plank toward the ground, the muscle engagements that slow the body down in this transition are actually the OPPOSITE of the joints. For example, the elbows bend, BUT the muscles that engage in order to resist the movement are actually your triceps. Triceps are the muscles that help to straighten your arm. So as you bend into your elbows, your triceps fight back, keeping you from landing on your face. We do this all the time in transitions. We activate the opposing muscles of what is happening anatomically in our joints. We even do it in most static postures. How many poses have you done where you feel your quads burn, and yet your knees are bent? The muscles that straighten the knees are the quads, and yet they are fully engaged in bent knee postures so that you don’t land on the ground.
FOCUS: ARM BALANCES & HIP OPENERS
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12 Class Pack for Alignment and Flow! Develop your balance, increase your strength, and learn to transition gracefully between postures. This livestream immersion focuses heavily on providing step by step instruction for popular transitions like plank to chaturanga, hop forwards, warrior 2 to half moon.
Do to the challenging transitions and postures this immersion is recommended for intermediate level students.
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