5 Tips to Practice Chaturanga Correctly

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How many times have you heard your yoga instructor say, “Move through your flow,” or “Take a vinyasa,” or “Chaturanga, up dog, down dog”?
You know the basic movement, but Chaturanga is a foundational yoga pose that can certainly use some breaking down.
Chaturanga is often part of a “vinyasa” or “flow” that yogis do on the way back to Downward Dog. It can also make a cameo in advanced sun salutations. It is a transitional pose and one with the most common mistakes seen by teachers – often, students tend to skip the low pushup and move right through to Upward Facing Dog. But this pose is not an ordinary push-up . . .
Benefits of Chaturanga:

  • Increases arm and wrist strength
  • Tones the abdominal region
  • Corrects the body’s overall posture
  • Improves sense of balance

Remember! Chaturanga is not a push-up and requires different alignment and muscle group focus. It is so important to maintain proper alignment to avoid wrist pain and shoulder injuries.

Here Are 5 Tips + A Comprehensive Breakdown On How to Practice Chaturanga Properly:


1. Start from High Plank:

  • Shoulders stacked above wrists
  • Core is engaged
  • Legs are straight and strong


2. Engage all your muscles:

  • Draw your muscles into the midline of your body
  • Keep your elbows hugged into your sides
  • Shift forward onto your toes
  • Pull your torso forward so your shoulders are now beyond your wrists


3. Slowly Lower:

  • Keep hugging your elbows into your sidebody
  • Lower down with control as slow as you can
  • Stop when your shoulders are in line with your elbows


4. Pause and hold:

  • Once your shoulders are in line with your elbows, pause here and hold
  • Fill into your low back by drawing your navel up and in towards your spine
  • Engage your core to build strength and stamina

5. Options for after:

  • You can lower all the way to your mat and rest
  • Press back up into High Plank – this is a great core and upper body workout
  • Sun Salutations: flow into Cobra or Upward Dog and then press back into Downward Dog



Chaturanga DO’s:

  • 90 degree angle in the upper arms and forearms
  • Elbows and forearms are parallel to the floor
  • Tuck your tailbone to lengthen your low back
  • Utilize the back muscles of your body (back torso, shoulder blades, triceps, hamstrings, and calves) with equal effort as the front
  • Keep your elbows stacked directly above your wrists


Chaturanga DON’Ts:

  • Do not try to use brute strength to muscle your way into the pose
  • Do not let your shoulders drop below the height of your elbows
  • Do not let your elbows splay out to the sides (remember: this is NOT a push-up!)

dont-chaturanga2 copy

Practicing Chaturanga correctly requires an understanding of the proper alignment. Although the pose demands strength, you can’t simply conquer it through sheer force and muscular effort.
Let go of the desire for outcomes and focus on the present moment instead. The essence of Chaturanga is demonstrated in your ability to flow with all of life’s challenges, both on and off the mat. Once you are in the flow, you will find true power in the pose.
Questions or comments? Talk to us in the comments below! We love hearing from you! Ready to show off your Chaturanga? Instagram us @YogiApproved and tag your photos #yogiapproved.

New to yoga? Check out our 6-class series, Intro to Vinyasa Yoga



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6 Yoga Poses To Help You Learn Arm Balances
Below are 6 yoga poses you can practice to build your body up to Bakasana (the sixth pose of this article) and play around with shoulder engagement and transferring your weight forward.
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Kasia is a corporate gal who loves to hop into Crow Pose as soon as she gets off work and onto her yoga mat. She especially loves hot vinyasa yoga. With a background in Political Science and Communications, Catherine loves to be loud and uses quotes for advice. Take for example: “Let your love be so big and pure that it shifts the energy in the room.”

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