Deep Dive Into Chaturanga

Deep Dive Into Chaturanga

Shoulder Action Controversy

shoulder stability

DEEP DIVE INTO CHATURANGA

Earlier this week, Matt posted a video on his Instagram page highlighting the shoulder blade movement that takes place in Chaturanga—moving from protraction to retraction. This can be a tricky subject, and it was cause for some discussion in the comments on that video. He goes into more detail here

When we’re taught to do something (such as the execution of a yoga posture) a certain way, it may be difficult to consider an alternative. The Chromatic yoga approach, however, is a nondogmatic one and requires that we create our own understanding through action and being open to new possibilities. There is always room for perspective. Now, Chaturanga can be a challenging posture due to the strength it requires, but in today’s video, we see a breakdown of the steps and gain insight into the anatomy in order to make informed choices in our yoga practice.

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    SEQUENCING FOR THE SHOULDERS

    The intelligent sequencing offered in a Chromatic yoga class helps us prepare our bodies for optimal positioning in a given posture.

    In Chaturanga, there is a tendency for the scapulae to anterior tilt, causing the shoulders to punch forward into the anterior portion of the shoulder capsule. Over time, this can cause pain and/or increased wear and tear on the joint, not to mention the implications it may have for the neck, shoulders, back, and chest. What’s necessary is a healthy degree of external rotation. Matt demonstrates a few drills with a strap and blocks that help pattern the body in how to create the external rotation required for the pose. Why is this important? These drills teach us how to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, which will help stabilize the shoulder joint and recruit the serratus anterior for a stronger descent in Chaturanga.

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    DEEP DIVE INTO CHATURANGA: SHOULDER ACTION CONTROVERSY

    STRAP SETUP FOR THE SHOULDERS

    These drills help us understand the foundations of the shoulder mechanics for Chaturanga.

    Pull the Strap Apart

    Here are the four key actions:

    1. Take an underhand grip of the strap.
    2. Pull the strap apart.
    3. Move the shoulder heads back.
    4. Bring the elbows in and forward.

    This drill is not static; when watching the video, we see that there is actually movement back and forth, which will help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles.

    Block in the Palm & Between the Elbow and the Body

    This drill can be done without  a block; however, the block between the body and elbow adds that extra awareness of activation and reminds to keep our elbows more narrow.

    Essentially what’s happening here are movements back and forth between the internal and external rotation of the humerus. Holding the additional block in the supinated palm of the same arm helps emphasize the required external rotation for Chaturanga.

    STRAP SETUP FOR THE SHOULDERS

    These drills help us understand the foundations of the shoulder mechanics for Chaturanga.

    Pull the Strap Apart

    Here are the four key actions:

    1. Take an underhand grip of the strap.
    2. Pull the strap apart.
    3. Move the shoulder heads back.
    4. Bring the elbows in and forward.

    This drill is not static; when watching the video, we see that there is actually movement back and forth, which will help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles.

    Block in the Palm & Between the Elbow and the Body

    This drill can be done without  a block; however, the block between the body and elbow adds that extra awareness of activation and reminds to keep our elbows more narrow.

    Essentially what’s happening here are movements back and forth between the internal and external rotation of the humerus. Holding the additional block in the supinated palm of the same arm helps emphasize the required external rotation for Chaturanga.

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    CHATURANGA AT THE WALL

    Transitioning to Chaturanga at the wall takes us to a closer setup of what position our bodies will be in. Of course, we are perpendicular to the floor in this variation, but we can negotiate hand and shoulder placement without the strength element. Matt has shown us variations at the wall before, and they are always helpful in navigating a posture.

    One of the key points in this variation, however, is the push through the heel of the hands. This action both brings the bottom wing tip of the scapulae through the arm bone, which encourages the head of the humerus to pull back, and it helps recruit the muscles of the serratus anterior. We also gain a “band of stability” in the upper body once this is in place. Once we’ve explored here, it’s time to take Chaturanga to the mat.

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    WHY PROTRACTION TO RETRACTION?

    In the video, Matt demonstrates how the shoulder blades come in towards one another on the descent portion of Chaturanga. This is what might conjure up some controversy. Matt explains that we’re not just easily allowing them to come together; instead, we’re still trying to resist the retraction in the lowering phase until we’re almost at the ground level. It’s therefore a “fight” between the actions of protraction and retraction of the scapulae.

    Remember the “push through the heel of the hand”? This ignites the protraction. The goal is to allow the shoulder blades to retract at a slow pace. Too often, we find that if there is no retraction, we can fall into the anterior tilt of the scapulae more easily. If there is no movement of the scapulae, it can affect the muscles in the front and the back of the neck by causing more strain.

    ALLOW MOVEMENT TO TAKE PLACE

    In this full workshop (The Shoulder Reset), Matt explains that going from protraction to retraction means that we are allowing the shoulder joint to move as it was designed. We are allowing gravity to do its job. When allowing the movement from protraction to retraction to take place, we are creating an eccentric contraction, which will offer a smooth descent. It will also translate into creating lightness and ease in a jump back.

    The good news is that Matt’s offering a 3-part workshop series this month, Shoulder Mastery The education we can look forward to will have a profound effect on our yoga practice overall.  

    Part I is all about shoulder mobility and heart openers, and Part II delves into shoulder strength and arm balances. Part III tackles inversions, binds, and neck & shoulder releases.

    Click Shoulder Mastery to register.

    See you on the mat!

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    Article by Trish Curling

    Videos Extracted From: The Shoulder Reset

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    Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog

    Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog

    Shoulder Mechanics Simplified

    ALIGNMENT

    PLANK, CHATURANGA, UPWARD DOG

    How many times have you heard the cue “Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog” in a yoga class? If you’re a regular practitioner, it’s probably quite often (particularly in Vinyasa-style classes). These postures are often strung together in a sequence, and the repetition of this sequence can feel quite nice in your body once it becomes a more regular part of your asana practice. It’s easy, however, to become complacent in the execution of these postures and potentially miss opportunities to practice with more skill. In today’s video, Matt simplifies the shoulder mechanics within each posture and highlights how to effectively utilize the appropriate muscle groups for maximum efficiency in your body. You’ll come away with alignment insights that will uplevel your yoga practice.

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    UNDERSTANDING PLANK

    Plank is the foundation and start of the sequence of Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog. It is the start of being able to understand some of the common tendencies you may have when it comes to stability. Matt explains that one tendency is the anterior tilt of the scapulae (i.e., the shoulders roll forward). This is not necessarily wrong, but if your body regularly defaults into the pattern, it may be an indication that your serratus anterior is weak. It’s your serratus anterior that works to protract the scapulae (a requirement for Plank Pose). If this area is weak, then your pectoralis minor will attempt to take over. A big indicator here is a “sagging” between the shoulder blades. In Plank, your torso is being weighed down by gravity, so the pull of the chest, or “sagging,” is almost inevitable if the serratus anterior is weak.

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    PLANK, CHATURANGA, UPWARD DOG: SHOULDER MECHANICS SIMPLIFIED

    CHATURANGA AND THE ROLE OF GRAVITY

    In the full class, Matt discusses the importance of understanding the role of gravity and its influence on Plank and Chaturanga. In Plank, we now understand the tendency to close the distance between the shoulder blades. In Chaturanga, however, there is an element of going with gravity through the movement, while also opposing it. In other words, in Chaturanga, the shoulder mechanics change. You’re moving from protraction in Plank to retraction.  This is where it gets tricky. Even though there is a level of retraction, it’s critical to note that the muscles that allow you to lower into Chaturanga slowly are the muscles that create protraction. There is still a level of effort placed on protraction so as not to just go with gravity and fall on your face. Essentially, you are fighting against gravity in order to maintain a slow stable descent into Chaturanga.

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    UPWARD-FACING DOG

    Falling into the same pattern of anterior tilt in the shoulders is very easy here too. Upward Dog has the capacity to be a strong backbend, but this is achieved by creating a posterior tilt of the scapulae. Instead of thinking about how to manipulate this action from the top of the shoulder blades, Matt suggests bringing your awareness to the bottom tips. Bringing the bottom tips of the scapulae in towards your midline while sending them forward will help to create the shape. Lifting your shoulders up while also sending them back will ultimately send your chest forward to create the backbend. If this proves to be challenging, it comes back to strengthening both the serratus anterior and, in this case, the lower trapezius, which can help you break away from old patterns. It’s the difference between dropping into gravity and lifting up and out with more power.

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    TRANSITION

    Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog—instead of just going through the motions, you now need a deeper sense of awareness in this sequence. Of course, your body will start to re-pattern, and there will be less thought once the pattern becomes ingrained in your body. The sequence of Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog will become more fluid, but until then, it will be a process of becoming more familiar with the timing of when to protract, retract, elevate, and depress your shoulders. In today’s video from Matt’s Alignment Immersion, he takes you on the journey of these 3 postures. If you’re interested in going even further, investing in his 200 & 300 hour training programs is the way forward. This is where you will go further into not only transforming your own practice but becoming certified to support and transform the practice of your students.

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    Article by Trish Curling

    Video Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

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    Create Fluency In Your Flows

    Create Fluency in Your Flows

    Workshop These Vinyasa Transitions

    FLUIDITY

    IS IT “FIND” OR “CREATE” FLUENCY IN YOUR FLOWS?

    It’s most definitely possible to say “find” fluency in your flows when it comes to a Vinyasa-style yoga practice, but I believe “create” is a more appropriate word to use here because it implies that you have to take action to make fluency happen. It’s vital to be very intentional about your approach when you are integrating something into your life, and it’s no different with regard to your yoga practice on the mat. Matt teaches specific techniques and strategies to make it easier for you to be intentional. Sometimes you have the yearning, but you don’t know what steps to take. In today’s video, you’ll see how Matt workshops how to utilize strength, the creative use of props, and harmony between breath and movement for a perfect equation to create fluency in your flows.

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    NAVIGATING TRANSITIONS

    A Vinyasa-style practice is associated with almost seamless, flowing-type movements on your mat. The synchronicity of movement with breath elicits a certain pace and a “push” quality, since you are always looking ahead or moving towards the next posture. Doing this requires a degree of strength in order to flow with confidence.

    It’s also important to understand that moving with control and elegance on your mat is so much more than the aesthetics. You can’t deny that watching someone gracefully move across their mat is beautiful, but what you’re actually witnessing is the time and effort that has gone into developing strength. Navigating your way through a sequence of postures requires not only focus in the moment but also anticipation of what is coming next.

    The clips from today’s video are from Matt’s MOVE Immersion. In the clips, he teaches you, with explicit instruction, how to transition from Warrior II to Half Moon Pose and how to Jump Back into Chaturanga from Standing Splits. Woven into the instruction of both transitions is how to utilize strength and how the power of props helps to pattern the fluidity of these transitions into your nervous system.

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    CREATE FLUENCY IN YOUR FLOWS: WORKSHOP THESE YOGA TRANSITIONS

    WARRIOR II TO HALF MOON

    First, let’s look at Warrior II to Half Moon. I would say that this is a fairly common transition, but without a deeper understanding of how to utilize your strength for balance, it can easily fall apart. For you to learn how to find fluency, Matt first advises you to come to the long side of your mat. From here, you can root down into your mat with your front foot. Next, he instructs you to take your back foot off of the mat. Doing this will help with the glide that’s necessary to “push” forward into Half Moon. What’s the best way to glide? The prop that’s used here is a sock on your back foot to glide across a hardwood floor or similar surface. The way to home in on strength here is to activate your gluteus muscles. Rooting down through your front heel encourages the activation of the glutes in the front leg. This firming down supports your ability to neatly drag or glide your back foot towards the front in order to lift into Half Moon. What happens when you return to your mat? You’ll see how Matt progresses you to the point where you can eventually take the contact of the back foot away from the floor completely. The return to Warrior II is simply the reversal of all of the steps. What you’re left with is powerful yet free-flowing movement that appears weightless.

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    JUMP BACK FROM STANDING SPLITS

    This transition exhibits an explosive amount of power. One of the keys to unleashing the power for the lightness of the float in the jump back is to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. You’ll see how Matt utilizes a block to maintain the activation in these muscle groups. To create the foundation, you’ll also use socks as a prop to learn to pattern a smooth sweep back into Chaturanga (the progression here happens without the block). The lift of the top leg in Standing Splits requires glute and hamstring strength. Maintaining this lift while jumping back is what contributes to the buoyancy. Of course, the upper-body strength required is not to be neglected, but breaking it down and layering each aspect will assist in finding the fluency required here. In the video, you’ll also want to pay attention to Matt’s hand placement when he’s setting up “Standing Splits preparation.” This detail is essential for preparing the upper body to harness more strength.

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    LET IT ALL GO

    Finding fluency in your flows means that you’ve found this beautiful collision, where strength meets softness. There is a level of push and action while giving over to the flow of momentum. Fluency is accessible and possible.  Cultivating strength is the foundation. The use of props can assist with strength and create ease. It’s true that your breath anchors it all, and it’s also what helps you to let go and flow freely.

    There’s still time to register for MOVE, where Matt shares a plethora of techniques and tools to move with grace.

    See you on the mat!

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    Article by Trish Curling

    Video Clips Extracted From: Move Immersion

    MOVE

    • Access your movement potential
    • Sweat and raise your heart rate
    • Master your breath/movement coordination
    • Increase mobility at all major joints
    • Learn to gracefully transition between postures
    • Improve your flexibility
    • Strengthen your hips, back, shoulders, and core
    • Improve your balance
    • Each class will raise your heart rate, bring you to a sweat, and return you back to a relaxed state of mind and body
    • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
    • Lifetime unlimited access to all
    • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

    $168.00

    Continue Learning

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    • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
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    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Build Strength & Endurance

    Build Strength and Endurance

    Infuse Calisthenics Into Your Yoga Practice

    resilience

    STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE WITH CALISTHENICS

    There are both simple and more complex ways of infusing calisthenics into your yoga practice, especially as you get stronger and build upon various skills. First of all, movements associated with “basic” calisthenic exercises are already woven in many ways into asana practices such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga styles of yoga. What we need to understand, however, is that alongside the more traditional approaches, there are creative and innovative ways of incorporating calisthenics into our physical practice. Ultimately, what we are building over time is strength and endurance.

    Matt breaks down exactly how to do this in the clips that you’ll see in today’s video, from his current MOVE Immersion. What is the reason for wanting to increase strength and endurance? Well, key components of overall health include both. If you consistently practice calisthenic exercises and/or incorporate them into your yoga practice, it’s inevitable that you’ll develop increased strength and endurance both physically and mentally.  

    MOVE

    • Access your movement potential
    • Sweat and raise your heart rate
    • Master your breath/movement coordination
    • Increase mobility at all major joints
    • Learn to gracefully transition between postures
    • Improve your flexibility
    • Strengthen your hips, back, shoulders, and core
    • Improve your balance
    • Each class will raise your heart rate, bring you to a sweat, and return you back to a relaxed state of mind and body
    • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
    • Lifetime unlimited access to all
    • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

    $168.00

    WHAT ARE CALISTHENICS?

    When you hear the term calisthenics, I wouldn’t be surprised if what comes to mind are some seriously strong folks doing pull-ups, chin-ups, a rude amount of push-ups or some “crazy” complicated movements requiring what may appears to be an obscene amount of coordination. You wouldn’t be wrong. The idea of incorporating calisthenics into your movement practice can be quite intimidating. The good news is that there are entry points, and they may be more accessible than you think.

    Essentially, calisthenics are defined as a form of exercise where you’re using your own body weight for resistance. Exercises often associated with calisthenics are pull-ups, chin-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and push-ups, to name a few. How many times have you done chaturanga “yoga push-ups” in your practice?  How many times have you moved in and out of Malasana? Runner’s Lunge? Can you see the crossover? There is a great deal of benefit both physically and mentally. Let’s have a look.

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    BUILD STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE: INFUSE CALISTHENICS INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

    PHYSICAL STRENGTH & ENDURANCE

    Without a doubt, calisthenics are going to help you to build a solid and strong foundation. Incorporating them into your asana practice means that your approach on your mat will be an intense one. To acquire the benefits of muscle  strength and/or cardiovascular endurance, there must be repetition and vigor in your output of each drill or exercise, with minimal rest in between.  

    Although calisthenics have an impact on all muscle fibers, they are said to primarily work the slow-twitch fibers (type 1 fibers). These muscle fibers are associated with endurance. Because exercises like push-ups, lunges, and squats typically involve repetition, you can see how they are easily incorporated in the context of an asana practice. The physical demand and strain on your muscle tissues creates the stimulus for them to break down and therefore adapt and ultimately grow. In your yoga practice, the capacity at which you are working does not equate to muscular hypertrophy but to a remarkable amount of strength and integrity in your body.

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    MENTAL STRENGTH & ENDURANCE

    The attention to skill and technique requires a great deal of focus and concentration. Depending on the level of coordination and difficulty involved in a particular exercise, you’re also building resilience and mental toughness. The drive to complete and “push through” various calisthenic exercises means that you’re also fueling yourself with confidence. You’re actually proving to yourself that you can confront the opposition in your mind that may be telling you that you can’t possibly go any further. As long as you are free from injury and pain, taking action and pushing through is what actually allows you to experience benefits like increased focus, confidence, and tenacity. The resilience you build on your mat will ultimately lead to the same type of resilience in other areas of your life.

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    FIVE WAYS TO INFUSE CALISTHENICS INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

    In today’s video, Matt outlines 5 ways to infuse calisthenics into your yoga practice. He includes both simplified and more complex options.  

    First, Chaturanga Dandasana is great for strengthening your core, chest, triceps, shoulders, and the muscles in your lower body. In the clip, Matt demonstrates the transition from Downward-Facing Dog to Plank (on knees or on toes), then he doubles the Chaturanga before coming all the way down to the ground. This may be a “simpler” way to increase intensity and muscle strength, but if you are not used to using this transition, it will take some time to feel stronger and more confident in your execution.

    Second, Matt demonstrates a Boat Pose to Chaturanga transition. He breaks this one down into stages in which you can slowly build your way up to a full jump back into Chaturanga. This exercise will undoubtedly challenge your cardiovascular system and build more heat in your body. It also requires more coordination and timing as you progress into the jump back.

    Third are the Adductor Slides With Socks and Blocks. This one is particularly innovative: Not only do you get the cardiovascular benefit, but you also build strength in your adductors (a muscle group that can often be neglected). In the full class from which this clip is extracted, Matt repeats the drill with a timer. He encourages you to perform it quickly while paying attention to very precise articulations in the hips and feet.

    The fourth calisthenic exercise involves Plank—you might call this one a Side Plank (Vasisthasana) Crunch. Here, the focus is on strengthening your oblique muscles. It requires a great deal of muscle strength to balance while holding up your body weight and performing the “crunch” in the side body with control. This exercise definitely creates fire in the body! You will feel the elevation of your heart rate. 

    Lastly, Matt demonstrates another Plank variation. This one might be referred to as Side Plank (Vasisthasana) With Adductor Leg Lift. In this exercise, you are again strengthening your oblique muscles but adding in the strengthening of your adductor muscles. If you’re looking for a challenge, THIS—IS—THE—ONE! Again, the movements may appear to be quite innocent, but there is always more than meets the eye.

    TRANSFORM YOUR PRACTICE

    You can see that the intricacy of all of these exercises requires mindfulness, focus, and physical intensity on your part.

    When you watch the video, you’ll see how Matt specifically outlines the techniques for each drill in order for you to gain the maximum benefit. This is important because what might appear to be a minor change in body positioning (e.g., the articulation of the feet as they move in and out in the Adductor Slides) can have a drastic impact on the experience within the exercises and the actual muscle groups you’re affecting.

    All of the clips are from Matt’s MOVE Immersion. In each and every class, there are so many ways that Matt teaches how to incorporate calisthenics, for strength and endurance, into your yoga practice.   

    If you want to practice with more strength and grace, then this is definitely the immersion to sign up for.

    See you on the mat!

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    Video Clips Extracted From: Move Immersion

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    Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

    Chaturanga Alignment Part 2

    3 Steps to Apply Shoulder Actions

    CHATURANGA

    CHATURANGA: Integrating Shoulder Actions

    Integrating the 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions into your practice can be complicated, so to help you I have come up with 3 Steps to Master your Chaturanga. If you haven’t yet watched Chaturanga Alignment: 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions  then it is best to start there and come back to this afterwards. The 3 step process will help you develop “Muscle Intelligence” or the awareness of how to create specific actions in your body to find less complicated positions which require less strength and give you the space to explore new sensations. If done consecutively, these steps will build the strength over time that will make chaturanga feel light and free.

    Most of us sitting at our computers are not able to get up and start practicing, but if you do have the liberty of doing so, practice along with this video. If not, then simply watch and come back to it at another time so you can practice along. This is meant to help you apply the actions, not just understand them.

    Be patient with yourself as you work through each of the exercises – techniques take time to embody.

    The Intention 

    Perhaps the most confusing thing in the yoga community is the myriad of opinions about how to do each pose. Part of the reason for this is the differences each of us have from body type, to personality, to experience. Additionally, however,  each of us offering a path has a different intention behind our set of alignment cues or muscle actions. It is for this reason that I want to be clear that this is only one approach, and I am happy to provide for you the benefits and the challenges that come with this way. This approach to Chaturanga comes with the intention to build strength in multiple forearm muscles, the seratus anterior, triceps, external rotators of the the humerus, and the pectorals major. With all of these muscles working together to build strength you will inevitably feel more stable and light in your chaturanga and jump back to chaturanga, and also you will be well prepared for arm balances. If you have no intention of building strength in your upper body or practicing arm balances, there might be better ways of practicing Chaturanga. If you have a movement pattern that does not allow you to do protraction without upward tilt of the scapula then you might be better suited to a softer approach for a while. If you are experiencing chronic strain or compression in your wrist joints you may find leaning back in your chaturanga may be either better or worse for you. I mention this not to deter you from fully understanding and integrating this approach to chaturanga, but to help you to understand that there is never and will never be one correct approach to anything. What is good for you now may not be good for you later, and what was good for you yesterday may not be good for you today. This may be hard to grasp but if you try to keep an open mind and let yourself explore various approaches with the utmost attention to detail, you may find a greater sense of mastery in your body than you could ever find by doing one posture “the right way.” If you are ready to build strength, and/or set your self up for arm balances and jump backs, then let’s get started together!

    3 Step Integration

    When learning to integrate new muscle engagements or structural alignments into your practice, it is beneficial to simulate the shape with less stress on the muscles and joints. This usually entails changing your relationship to gravity. In the video and in the 3 steps below, I show you how to do this by doing chaturanga at the wall first, and then on your knees before trying the full posture. Doing these steps often provides a greater proficiency than simply trying it all out right away. This is because your body will always fall into its normal patterns when it’s asked to hold all your weight. We have to shake things up a bit to learn something new.

    Step 1 - Chaturanga at The Wall

    Regardless of your level, doing chaturanga at the wall and applying the three shoulder actions is huge in helping build masterful proprioception. This is the most important step in my eyes, especially since you’ll have plenty of time in class to practice step 2 and 3. Taking all the weight off of your body and just applying the actions until it is fully integrated and completely clear in both mind and body will be the best thing you can do. Mastery is not about halfway getting something, but rather nailing it down so that it will never be forgotten regardless of how long you leave the subject of study. Rock this exercise several times for several days/weeks and you will be well set up for building strength rapidly. Strength builds rapidly when our actions are precise in our body.

    Step 2: Chaturanga on Knees

    To be honest, when I take a vinyasa class, I do the first 5-10 chaturangas on my knees to get my body and mind linked together prior to floating back. Chaturanga on the knees is a great way to practice the actions with slightly less body weight. This is where you will begin building muscles appropriately, so be as precise and mindful as possible so you are strengthening the muscles required for the 3 shoulder actions. My best advice is start with your shoulders a little bit past the wrists to simulate the leaning forward when coming from plank. With your knees on the ground you can’t actually shift forward so you’ll have to begin by placing your knees closer to your wrists than you normally would. Second, make sure you create one long line from shoulders to knees, without breaking at the hips.

    Step 3: Plank To Chaturanga

    When attempting full chaturanga with a block, it becomes easier to compensate and “fake it” and either over engage in muscles that are not efficient for the actions, or simply getting caught up in compression – placing your bones in the way of the movement in order to slow the movement down – SEE  FIRST VIDEO when I talk about “Upward Tilt” of the scapula.

    Mastering these shoulder actions will not only make your practice of chaturanga easier and more enjoyable, but will open up a whole new world of power and strength in your arm balances.

    If you find yourself struggling to integrate the actions in this version, I highly recommend focusing on the first two options for about 3-5 months and then coming back to this.

    Complexity

    The shoulders are incredibly complex and as a result, it takes quite a lot of self-practice and study to gain any sort of mastery.  I break things down into small steps so that you are able to integrate the actions in your body more easily, however these steps are just the beginning. Let these actions settle into your body over time; rather than forcing them into every chaturanga, pick one action to focus on in your classes and first observe what you are doing before you make changes. Little by little, try to apply the action and notice what it feels like each time. This is a highly effective approach that builds patterns in the body and awareness in the mind. If you are interested in more shoulder strengtheners and stretches check out the Handstand Training. It comes with several videos that directly target the shoulders. Thank you for stopping by. Please share your comments, questions, or requests for other blog topics!

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