Chaturanga (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) is a staple in any kind of flow sequence, but new students and veterans alike sometimes have trouble getting the most of this pose. Even if you already possess a serious amount of core and upper-body strength, sometimes one quick shift or adjustment can help you reach the full potential of this energizing pose. After grappling with my own issues with the pose — namely that I hated it and never thought I'd get it right — I have built a beautiful relationship with Chaturanga. Interested in making a similar shift in your practice? Here are four tips to help you achieve Chaturanga greatness.
- Arms should form a right angle: For proper support, your elbows should be directly over your wrist, even as you're moving from Plank to Chaturanga. This can be difficult to gauge on your own in a yoga studio without mirrors; if this is the case for you and you're concerned about your alignment, then try the pose in front of a mirror at home.
- Heels and heart go forward: Don't be afraid to really move your body forward when transitioning to Chaturanga! By really reaching with your heart and heels simultaneously, you'll feel far more energized and powerful in the pose than if you just drop your core to the floor from Plank. You're also putting yourself in the perfect spot to transition to a beautiful Upward Facing Dog without taking your hands off the mat.
- Don't let your shoulders round: This has been the toughest tip for me to integrate into my practice. It's easy to hunch up and round your shoulders forward when making the move to Chaturanga. Instead, really make a point to draw your shoulder blades together, and keep your heart open.
- Get your head right: Once you've transitioned from Plank to Chaturanga, it's important to keep your neck safe. Gaze only slightly forward, just a few inches ahead of your fingertips. Looking up toward the front of the room can cause unwanted tension in your neck, but keeping a neutral line of energy in your neck will help protect your spine and keep your back and body strong. Once you're ready to move into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog), that's the time to gaze forward or take it up a notch with an even deeper backbend.