I love Chaturanga Dandasana because it makes me feel strong. This asana is the key to every arm balance and requires a very clear body awareness. It also takes strength in the arms and shoulders, and an integrated back, core and side body. In chaturanga, the entire body is engaged from high plank as the elbows bend straight back to hug the waist until the shoulders are even with the elbows. This is where a lot of folks go wrong. Either they don’t have the core strength to lower down with integrity, their back sags and their shoulders collapse; their triceps or shoulders aren’t active enough and the elbows bow out to the sides; or the body awareness just isn’t there and the shoulders come down lower than the elbows. These are all great ways to injure the shoulders or strain the back.
Try these 5 techniques to cultivate the strength and awareness necessary to refine your chaturanga while toning and stretching the muscles in your arms, shoulders and back. It won’t take long for you to feel and see the results!
Lay on your belly. Stretch your legs back one at a time. Place your feet shoulders width apart and subtly press the tops of them into the floor. Gently press your pubic bone into the floor as well while you pull the navel and lower ribs in. Place your elbows directly beneath your shoulders and arrange the forearms so that they are parallel to one another. Widen through the collar bones and draw up through the crown of the head to lengthen the spine. Activate the entire body.
Introduces a parallel relationship between the left and right arms, and reminds the elbows what a 90’ angle feels like. Arms are hugging the body, just like in chaturanga. Encourages the collar bones to spread without weight bearing. This awareness prevents collapsing through the chest in chaturanga and other arm balances. Cultivates space between the ribs and activity in the side body. Strengthens the arms and back.
Down Dog to Up Dog
This kriya is inspired by one of the Five Tibetan Rights of Rejuvenation. Repeating this movement 21 times per day is said to promote perfect health and longevity, and to strengthen, purify and balance the energy body.
Place your hands and feet on the floor while making your body into an upside down “V” shape. Keep your tiptoes on the mat. Inhale as you lower your hips toward the mat without allowing the thighs to touch down. Exhale to lift the hips back up to the sky. Repeat 21+ times with breath.
Strengthens the shoulders, arms, back and core. Enhances flexibility in the shoulders and back. Stretches and massages the whole body. Creates a muscle memory (somatic imprint) for parallel arms and body symmetry. Enhances body awareness. Firms arms, bum and belly and tones the back body.