Monday, October 27, 2014

Taming Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana should really have a different name.  Four limb staff pose is kinda dull.  Tricep fire, dragon attack, "diet time" pose, would all describe it in my head.  
There is a relative of chaturanga called Nakrasana, the crocodile.  Crocodile conveys the fierceness I feel is required for chaturanga.  {For those unfamiliar with Nakrasana, it is a "if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it" kind of pose - in other words, crazy hard.}

Anyway, here is my best effort at Chaturanga Dandasana.

It's a difficult pose and many people cannot do it properly.  Many times the shoulders roll forward, or the buttocks stick up, or the floor comes crashing towards you at an unexpected rate.

Today, I'm showing the use of props to make the pose more accessible to all levels.  When the pose is accessible, the body is in better alignment.  When the body is in better alignment, you can work on correct action in the pose as well as keep your body freer from injury.
Many people are familiar with wall pushups.  This is just like that.  I'm on my toes to put more weight onto my hands, but the feet could also be flat.  Increase your time in this pose before moving on to the next one.  If you would like more instruction on how to do chaturanga at the wall, click here.

Lowering the height will make the pose more challenging.  Maybe you'll have friends join you.

Two medium blocks still move the weight toward the legs, but there is considerably more work in the arms at this stage.  This is very close to the classic pose.

Another way to get more weight in the legs is to push the heels into the wall.  This will also help you keep your legs straight.  Here the prop is assisting in an action of the pose (legs firm, pushing back with hands).  I don't find this makes the pose any easier, although some people do. 
My shoulders are tipping a little forward in this one, which is the wrong action.  I'm trying to make up for it by lifting my head.  This doesn't help.

Let's make it a little easier on me.

If you look near my wrists, you'll see I have block support under my lower ribs.  I can still work on the legs in this pose without having too much weight on my arms.

Now, I have two blocks, one under each thigh.  Here I can work my arms with less weight than the full pose, but more weight than the block under the chest.

To truly tame the chaturanga beast, you need a hammock.  You can build a chaturanga hammock with a strap. 
Loop a strap and place it on your elbows.  The placement of the strap in the pose will be at your lower rib cage, similar to the block shown above.

Not so much of a beast here.  The actions of the rest of the body still have to be in place: pressing the floor away, thighs engaged, buttocks toward heels, etc.  You can stay in the pose long enough to do these actions in your very own hammock.
As a side note, I've tried Nakrasana with the hammock and had great success; however, I've never run this method by a senior teacher, so I'm not sure how dangerous it is.

Happy arm strengthening.

Tame the beast.

1 comment:

  1. The cat seems very involved with this pose. I think block at pelvis and block between thighs is also nice