One of the poses that has recently returned to my practice after a pretty long hiatus during pregnancy and postnatally for almost the same length of time is Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose). I started to wonder if I’d ever do it again – for so long it just didn’t feel even close to being a viable option. I modified my vinyasa by bringing my knees down to the mat and lowering myself all the way to the floor for Cobra pose as Upward Facing Dog also didn’t feel good for my body. I still like to take this option, opting for Chaturanga sparingly.
Chaturanga Dandasana is no picnic, it takes a lot of strength and a good understanding of the actions required in order to create shoulder stability and therefore prevent wear and tear which can occur as the pose is repeated so often. Whether you practice Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga, you might hear the pose instructed frequently throughout a class as it forms an intrinsic part of the sequence referred to as a ‘vinyasa’, but it’s rarely taught as the rhythm or flow of the practice would be interrupted if we broke it down and looked at the actions and alignment in-depth.
Here’s some guidance for maintaining shoulder stability within the pose:
- Make sure your shoulders don’t move into extension by keeping your elbows in line with the side of your body or in other words don’t lower down too far but instead create a 90 degree angle with your arms.
- Firmly squeeze your elbows against the sides of your body, rather than allowing them to separate away from your torso.
One of the many benefits of feeling like a beginner again is that with a new perspective you go through the process of feeling like something is inaccessible then gradually, sometimes very slowly, progressing towards it and finally trying to refine it, all with a renewed appreciation for that process. For me, I feel like my arms are fairly strong from holding a baby, but my core is a lot weaker than it used to be so gradually I’m regaining strength in that part of my body which is a essential in order to support myself in Chaturanga.
However there can be many factors preventing us from progressing, it’s not just all about strength; not sufficiently understanding a pose, not understanding how to transition into the pose and not knowing how to modify your practice in order to work towards the pose rather than just excluding it. This was certainly the case for me with Chaturanga mainly because it wasn’t broken down and taught to me in classes. That’s is why I’m teaching a workshop on the pose so that we can really explore the various nuances involved. I’m hoping this will be useful for beginners and seasoned yoga practitioners alike as a chance to review the pose, practice preparatory poses and strength-building actions and also think about how we transition in and out of the pose.
However, I want to end by saying that I really don’t think that whether we can do a posture or not has any bearing on how ‘well’ we practice yoga or how committed we are to our practice. And if we never master a pose – how important is that, really?! That being said, there can be a lot of value in going through the process of working towards a pose (or asana) as during that process we might find increased strength, range of motion and hopefully increased awareness.
Join Frankie for a Chaturanga masterclass Saturday 9th March; 09:00-11:00; £25 – Click Here