Why Mastering Chaturanga Is So Significant For Your Shoulder Joint
But for some it can seem like an unlikely, awkward hurdle. What is it about Chaturanga that is so difficult, and why is mastering Chaturanga significant for anatomical alignment and asana practice?
As you flow from Downward Dog into Chaturanga, much of your weight shifts into your shoulders, and this is one of the reasons it can be so difficult. It’s also one of the reasons that this pose can originally be more difficult for women than for fellows.
Chaturanga also strenuously engages the triceps, chest and core, and many people just beginning out with this pose say that it feels very awkward in the elbow joint. Learning and practising this pose incorrectly can lead to strain, and even injury, in the shoulders, elbows and beyond, so it is essential that everyone practices this pose with safe and decent form.
Chaturanga Up Close: Tips and Modifications
The very first thing to note is that Chaturanga is not a traditional pushup. Instead of letting your elbows wing out to the sides, Chaturanga requires that you keep your elbows tucked in beside your ribs. As you stir through Chaturanga, you should be able to feel your elbows brushing the sides of your pecs.
This is very challenging for the triceps and the core, so those who are still building their strength in these parts of the figure may want to practice this pose with their knees resting on the mat, shortening the lever of the figure and putting less weight into these muscle groups.
This is a fine way to build up to a safe, effective Chaturanga. You can also use a strap (packaged around your lower arms) to help you make sure that your elbows are correctly aligned.
Place the strap around your forearms just below your elbows and tighten it until the strap stays on when you are in Plank pose. The strap will serve as a reminder to think about where your elbows are in space and in relation to your figure during this pose.
Building up to Chaturanga using modifications and props is essential to build up the capability to use this pose to strengthen your shoulders. If your triceps and core aren’t prepped for the work required in this pose, your bod will embark to recruit and engage your chest more than it should.
This can cause — as anatomist Kreg Weiss puts it — “…winging of the shoulder blades, and a cascading destabilization; all of which can lead to injury in the musculature supporting the shoulder girdle.” So, prepping your assets decently for Chaturanga is very significant for its safety.
Where do the shoulder benefits come in?
Your shoulders only truly begin to engage in this pose once you’ve built up enough strength and stabilized in the decent alignment to feel comfy and supported. Then your shoulders commence to work in valuable ways.
The workout that your shoulders get in Chaturanga is one that prepares them for even more advanced poses, particularly arm balances and some inversions.
Flowing from Chaturanga into Upward Facing Dog, as you do in a Vinyasa flow, also helps your muscles in this area budge more fluidly and with more coordination, improving range of movability. Once you’ve mastered Chaturanga, your bod will be ready to work toward other arousing poses with enlargened strength and mobility.
Your improved shoulder girdle strength will help with good pose as well, leading to a host of other benefits via your bod.
On a more anatomic level, it’s significant to reminisce that your shoulder girdle—three bones and many long, lean connective tissues—is the central conjoining area for your upper bod. Many of the muscles in your arms, wrists and arms, connect to your figure through the sternoclavicular joint, an essential part of your shoulder girdle.
As author, yoga and anatomy teacher Jennilee Toner says, “The thirty two bones that extend outward from your chest, and often suggest expression of what is happening in your heart, only link to your axial skeleton with one puny joint. The only way all those thirty two bones stay on the pecs is with soft connective tissues; a systematic placement of various muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is a marvelous wonder to behold”.