With all the sun salutations and downward facing dogs I've been doing lately, the four limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) has also been showing up in my practice. Is this the yoga push-up?
In my early days of practice, I recall not understanding how to do this pose. From a plank position, I would flop, for a lack of a better term, onto my stomach and flow into the next part of sun salutation, typically cobra pose (Bhujangasana). I had little control and maybe didn't really get that it was its' own distinctive pose.
Now, "chataranga", as I enjoy saying cause it sounds cool, is one if my favorite parts of sun salutations. The arm supported pose is similar to a push-up in position and action when lowering but typically the upward push with the arms is notably different. The hips slightly drop, the back arches and depending on your next pose the legs can be flat on the floor in cobra or elevated in upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). However, I've been in classes when the instructor cues moving up and down in this pose which is very much a triceps focused push-up.
Here is a short and sweet explanation by Lululemon (you might need to watch it twice!):
I also liked these thorough videos here and here demonstrating the precautions needed to avoid wrist irritation and injury. As well, this video discusses the importance to de-emphasize the role of the pectoral muscles with the focus on serratus anterior and the rhomboid muscles to stabilize the shoulder girdle.
Yoga Journal always has a good explanation with variations and progressions. Since it requires a lot of strength to do the complete pose, variations such as bent knees on the mat or completely lowering your body to the mat before proceeding provide excellent options that an aspiring teacher needs to know!
Chaturanga! I just had to say it one more time! :)
We recently purchased a new computer and I had a chance to review some of my old files. I previously posted an old university essay I wrote in my academic yoga class but what I also found was a journal that I wrote for a class assignment.
Rewind 12 years and I was a third year university student taking yoga in my spring semester. If memory serves, I was to practice at home and write about what I did and how it went. In the next couple posts, I am going to following my student journal and complete the same poses I did back those many years ago.
This week I completed three poses at home, as I did for my journal. They include cobra pose (Bhujangasana) which oddly I called snake pose, cat cow pose ( Marjaryasana to Bitilasana) and chopping wood pose (Kashtha Takshanasana). Below are my current day assessments of each pose and the quotes are my thoughts circa 2001 on each pose.
I remember I use to struggle with this pose whereby my lower back would feel "crunched" and some discomfort would occur. I started to "get better" at this pose when Judy would ask the group to only lift our upper torso and use no hand support. This was and is the best way for me prep my spine for cobra pose. By doing a couple baby cobras using my spinal muscles to extend my back, I find my full cobra to be much more supported and less painful!
"...I felt in control of my breathing because of the concentration on the inhaling when lifting the chest and the exhalation when lowering the chest. My lower back slowly was able to lift higher off the ground as I progressed through the movement. I play some relaxation music and it helped me to move in a fluid movement."
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.