Chaturanga Alignment Part 1

Chaturanga Alignment PART 1

3 Actions To Get Stronger

CHATURANGA ALIGNMENT FOR STRENGTH

Chaturanga is one of the most repeated poses in the modern yoga practice, and it happens to be one of the most challenging on the shoulders. It is highly beneficial to take a look at the mechanics of the posture. I have been studying this posture for over a decade and I have to say chaturanga seems to be one of the most mysterious postures out there. So many teachers are offering “correct alignment” and throwing around “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” without taking a deep look at what is really happening. Part of why there are so many contrasting opinions is the simple misunderstanding that bones and muscles are not the same – or better put, alignment and muscle engagement don’t necessarily go hand in hand. When we say that the elbows are bent in chaturanga we are referring specifically to the structure or alignment of the pose, NOT the action of the muscles. If we are to pause in chaturanga and hold it as a posture, what are the muscles that stop the elbows from bending? You may have figured it out – the triceps. What do the triceps do? They straighten the elbows. So we can say pretty confidently that in chaturanga the elbows are bent, but we are trying to straighten them in order to stop or slow down movement. The same is true in the shoulder blades, but because the shoulder blades aren’t as straight forward as bend and straighten, most people have a cloudy understanding of what is happening there.

THE SHOULDER BLADES

What is happening at the shoulder blades in chaturanga? As for the structure, I would argue that they are retracted (closer together) and most likely in what is called upward tilt (Video Time Mark – 3:30) – shoulder blades climb up and over the top of the rib cage. These joint relationships are quite normal when you do a “seated row” with your elbows close in. If the hands are wider in chaturanga the shoulder blades are less likely to be in upward tilt and more likely to just be retracted. If you don’t follow this, don’t worry. Just know that the shoulder blades tend to move in specific ways when the arms move, and the video above will give you the visual of these actions. Let’s keep it simple – the shoulder blades are retracted when in the bent elbow position. In order to slow down the movement, you would have to try to protract your shoulder blades – move them apart – as if you were trying to push back up to plank pose. In the video above there is a great visual of my shoulder blades moving from retraction to protraction at the 4 minute mark. Just like the elbow joint, we can look at the shoulder blades and say the structural alignment is retraction, but the muscle action is the opposite – we are trying to protract the shoulder blades – this is what slows down or stops the movement at the scapula. In the video I use a term that I created for my Mentorship Mastery students, and have now integrated into my new yoga system called Chromatic Yoga. This term is called a Balancing Action – an engagement of the muscular system that opposes the structural alignment. When we engage the triceps while the elbow is bent, this is a “Balancing Action.” The primary muscles that create protraction are the Seratus Anterior. If the shoulder blades are retracted and we activate these muscles, then again this would be called a Balancing Action.

200 hour online teacher training certification

200 Hour Online Teacher Training

“The 200 Hour Online Teacher Training certification with Matt Giordano is hands down the most detailed, comprehensive, in-depth and effective training to learn how to teach yoga and deepen your own yoga practice”

the best yoga teacher training for alignment

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skillset as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques. theming, yoga business and much more! 

Yoga Alignment and Flow

THE DANCE

ALIGN AND REFINE YOUR FLOW

Develop your balance, increase your strength, and learn to transition gracefully between postures. This livestream immersion will help you increase your body awareness by taking you through weight shifting exercises and providing action based alignment while you move from one posture to another. With lifetime, unlimited access you will have the opportunity to refine your skills over time without the pressure of having to get it right the first time through the flow. If you are looking to transform the way you move, look no further. This immersion is perfect for you. The suggested level of practice is intermediate due to the heavy focus on transitions rather than static postures.

Recommended due to the heavy emphasis on Chaturanga Alignment throughout this immersion.

Step 1 - External Rotation of Arms

To stabilize the arms in chaturanga, external rotation is highly effective. The arms will tend to internally rotate due to the activation of the pectoral major muscles. If we keep the pectoral major activated and oppose it with the external rotators of our rotator cuff group, then we create oppositional stability. Engaging two opposing muscle groups at the same time is not easy. It takes effort and coordination, however it is absolutely possible. In the above picture you see my biceps are facing out and hands are out as a result of that rotation. When the hands are on the ground they can’t move, so when you externally rotate, the elbows will come inward. My suggestion is elbows vertical over the wrists, not touching your rib cage. Bonus- this often takes pressure off of the outer wrist

Step 2: Depression of the Scapula

One way to stabilize the shoulder blades is to depress them down the back. In addition to stability, this provides the added benefit of potentially relaxing the pectoral minor muscle which tends to get over used and abused from repetitive chaturangas. Depression of the scapula can be quite challenging if you are not a climber or actively work your lower trapezius and latissimus muscles. Our shoulder blades are often resting downward, but that is due to gravity, not strength. When depressing the shoulder blades be sure to think from the back muscles, because it is easy to press the front of your shoulder down the front of your chest resulting in upward tilt of the scapula as mentioned in the above video. Depression of the scapula can prevent upward tilt if done properly.

Step 3: Protraction

Separating the shoulder blades away from one another and around the rib cage creates stability and resistance against gravity. While you will likely still be in retraction of your scapula in chaturanga, I am suggesting to actively resist in order to hold the posture or slow down the descent. This takes a tremendous amount of body awareness, so it is highly beneficial to practice this in postures like plank and forearm plank. These two postures have a fixed elbow joint making it easier to feel just the action of protraction. Also see Chaturanga Part 2 in order to learn how develop the body awareness necessary for this action. One tip I will offer is that it helps to think of puffing up the upper back. You may wind up activating the abdominals which can inadvertently support protraction.

What is Next?

The best thing you can do for yourself when attaining new knowledge is to find ways to integrate it. Through the integration process you can develop proficiency of the techniques which allows you to access them on demand and in more postures. How do you integrate them? This was a common question that came up after this video was released. I created a free follow up blog to support you in this adventure! Part 2 of this blog gives you 3 exercises to practice in order to become familiar with the actions so you can apply them to your practice of chaturanga. Thanks for stopping by, and please share this blog with others who you feel would benefit!

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy, and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.

Continue Learning

Yoga Sequencing: Teaching Technique Reverse Engineering

Yoga Sequencing: Teaching Technique Reverse Engineering

Intelligent Yoga Sequence Technique "REVERSE ENGINEERING"Yoga Sequencing HOW TO DESIGN AN INTELLIGENT YOGA SEQUENCE REVERSE ENGINEERING Designing an intelligent yoga sequence for your at-home practice or for your students can create a massive lifelong impact. Whether...

read more
Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Best Backbend Technique to relieve back pain

Backbend Technique to relieve back pain "BOWING THE SPINE"Bowing The Spine Why are backbends uncomfortable for many people? Can we do anything to change this? Let's dive into my #1 backbend technique to relieve back pain, and provide you with maximum range of motion....

read more
firefly pose titibhasana

firefly pose titibhasana

FIREFLY POSE TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: LEARN TO FLYFIREFLY POSE FIREFLY POSE: TITIBHASANA STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL: 4 KEY ACTIONS Firefly pose (Titibhasana) might have you thinking, “There is no way I’ll ever be able to do THAT pose!” Yes for sure it requires...

read more
release low back pain in backbends

release low back pain in backbends

YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDSCOBRA POSE YOGA ALIGNMENT: COBRA POSE HOW TO RELEASE LOW BACK PAIN IN BACKBENDS If you feel back pain in backbends, you are not alone. Many people experience low back pain in backbends. If you're...

read more
yoga pose alignment full wheel

yoga pose alignment full wheel

YOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSE THE 3 MYTHS DEBUNKEDFULL WHEELYOGA ALIGNMENT: FULL WHEEL POSEYoga alignment for Full Wheel Pose is anything but simple, but achieving an easeful expression of the posture in your body is most definitely attainable. We just have to break...

read more

Livestream Class Packages

yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

HEART OPENERS

DISCOVER THE JOY OF BACKBENDS

  • Learn over 12 backbends
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Bow Pose, Camel, Dancer, Full Wheel
  • King Cobra, King Dancer, King Pigeon
  • 12 all-levels, 75min online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $98.00

Arm Balances Online Yoga Classes

ARM BALANCES

FREEDOM OF FLIGHT

  • Learn over 12 arm balances
  • Step-by-step instructionals in every practice
  • Techniques, biomechanics and alignment
  • Crow, Side Crow, Titibasana, Ashtavakrasana
  • Forearm Stand, Koundinyasana 1 & 2, Handstand
  • 12 all-levels, 75min online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$198.00 $128.00

Yoga Alignment and Flow

MOVE • BREATHE • RELEASE

YOGA • BREATHWORK • MEDITATION

  • YOGA: TRANSFORM YOUR BODY
  • BREATHWORK: REJUVENATE
  • MEDITATION: AWAKEN YOUR MIND
  • THE TRIFECTA OF YOGA
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

Yoga Alignment and Flow

THE DANCE

ALIGN • REFINE • FLOW

  • MOVEMENT TRANSFORMATION
  • ALIGNED TRANSITIONS
  • TARGETED STRENGTH
  • DEEP HIP OPENERS
  • 12 CLASSES: INTERMEDIATE

$298.00 $148.00

back health online yoga classes

THE PULSE

BALANCE • STRENGTH • FLEXIBILITY

  • SHOULDER STRENGTH
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HAMSTRINGS & BUTTOCKS
  • INNER THIGHS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$298.00 $128.00

2020 IMMERSIONS

back health online yoga classes

HIPS • HEART • HANDSTAND

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HEART OPENERS
  • HANDSTAND TECHNIQUES
  • BUILD COURAGE & STRENGTH
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$298.00 $148.00

boundless freedom

  • SHOULDER & NECK RELEASE
  • SHOULDER BIOMECHANICS
  • BALANCED STRENGTH
  • INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$298.00 $128.00

BIRDS OF PARADISE

  • FLEXIBILITY OF INNER THIGHS
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • LEADS TO BIRDS OF PARADISE 
  • COMPARTMENTS OF THE MIND 

$298.00 $128.00 

BEST STARTER PACKAGE

  • 6 YOGA CLASSES
  • 2 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 6 PEAK POSTURES
  • 6 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$148.00 $78.00

back health online yoga classes

THE SPINAL RESET

  • BACKBENDS & SIDE BENDS
  • TWISTS AND FORWARD FOLDS
  • SPINAL BIOMECHANICS
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$298.00 $128.00

JOURNEY TO BLISS

  • PHYSICAL MEETS SPIRITUAL
  • EXPLORE THE KOSHAS
  • MIND BODY TENSION RELEASE
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 YOGA CLASSES: ALL LEVELS

$198.00 $118.00

BACK, NECK & SHOULDERS

  • 12 YOGA CLASSES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • LIFETIME ACCCESS TO ALL
  • 12 PEAK POSTURES
  • 12 YOGA SUTRA THEMES

$178.00 $128.00

October Livestream Yoga Classes

THE BREAKTHROUGH

  • HIP OPENERS
  • HIP BIOMECHANICS
  • EMPHASIS ON ARM BALANCES
  • 4 POST-CLASS MEDITATIONS
  • 12 CLASSES: ALL LEVELS  

$298.00 $128.00

JOURNEY TO THE HEART

  • FULL BODY RESET
  • INCREASE BALANCE
  • ARM BALANCES
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • ELEMENTALLY THEMED

$298.00 $118.00

KING PIGEON & HANUMAN

  • FLEXIBILITY OF HIPS
  • SHOULDER & SPINE MOBILITY
  • 4 GUIDED MEDITATIONS
  • 12 INTERMEDIATE CLASSES
  • HAMSTRING RANGE OF MOTION

$198.00 $128.00

Newsletter

When You Subscribe You Will Instantly Get Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts 
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Pin It on Pinterest