Many people ask me, what else do you do besides yoga to tone your arms…..do you lift weights? And the answer is no. My guns are definitely what yogi’s call chatarunga arms.
Chaturanga dandasana or four limbed staff pose is both challenging and an excellent strength builder.
However, because it can be so difficult, we tend to want to rush through it and in doing so sometimes perform it improperly. While this may not seem like a big deal at first, over time doing a pose repetitively incorrectly can cause some irritation in the joints and even possibly lead to injury.
In this weight-bearing pose, the main muscle group being challenged are the shoulders. If your chest is tight your shoulders may be collapsing towards the floor causing stress in the shoulder joints. Also, if your upper back is weak your shoulder blades may not be stable enough to help support the shoulder girdle & therefore cause winging in your scapula.
Building up strength in this pose over time will help keep your body safe. Taking your time to feel your muscles in the pose and find an optimal balance of energy will help you cultivate a healthy & sustainable practice.
Here are some tips that may help.
1. From plank, press into the feet shifting your weight forward, bending your elbows in towards your ribs taking your forearms parrallel with the floor.
2. Pull your belly in while keeping your spine long & reaching back through your heels.
3. Softly gazing forward slide your shoulders towards the back of your mat & widen through your collar bones.
4. Make sure your shoulder blades are securely flat on the back engaging the rhomboid & serratus muscles in the upper back.
5. If your new to the practice or feeling fatigued, back off & modify by lowering to the knees.
To check your alignment you can use a wall and either facing the wall allow your tailbone to reach towards the floor and bring your elbows along side the body, practice pulling the shoulders down. Reversely, with your back & elbows against the wall face your palms forward fingertips to the sky, begin to locate the upper back muscles. Drawing your belly in standing up tall slide your shoulder blades to the floor.
May you have safe & happy travels in all of your vinyasas.