Do you love Vinyasa classes?
If you take more rigorous Yoga and Hot Yoga classes, then you have undoubtedly encountered Chaturanga Dandasana, the famous Yoga ‘push up’. This powerful arm balance position builds strength throughout the upper body, particularly the arms, chest, and front abdominals. Chaturanga is a gateway pose: it’s the gateway to building tremendous strength and learning arm balances, or if done incorrectly it can be the gateway to injuries.
OK, so what’s happening?
There’s a lot to learn about Chatturanga! You can explore deeper at Yogafurie’s upcoming workshop, where you can join Aaron and Jemitra for an in-depth look (they promise to not make you do Chaturanga for 3 hours!)
- Where: Yogafurie studio (click for map)
- When: 15th Sep 2019 1-4PM
- How much: £30 for Yogafurie members (active Hot Yoga subscription of active Hot Yoga 10 class pass), otherwise £35
In this workshop, you will work with Utthita Dandasana (High Plank) and Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank). Through a combination of discussion, partner drills and solo work, we will make an in-depth foray into these two poses.
CLICK BELOW TO BOOK YOUR MAT
What’s to discuss?
We’ll do a lot of preparatory Yoga practice, to learn about developing the strength and confidence needed for this pose. Also included is our Chaturanga Clinic where you will look at common misalignments and focus on injury prevention. So, we’ll learn a bit about anatomy, in an interactive way, as well as talking about how to get your body into the right shape.
In these pictures, Aaron has been body-painted to show some of the key muscles involved. You’ll get a good insight into the structure and anatomy of this posture at our workshop.
Some background on this invigorating posture
This is for people who are wondering what a Chattanga is… or for anyone interested in learning more about their favourite-least-favourite Yoga pose!
What does it mean?
The name comes from the Sanskrit words chatur meaning “four”, anga meaning “limb”, danda meaning “staff” (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body), and asana meaning “posture” or “seat”. Look above for pictures showing utthitha (extended) chatturanga dandasana. Below is one demonstrating chatturanga dandasana.
As you can see in all the pictures, four limbs really are supporting the staff of the spine!
The pose doesn’t feature in hatha yoga texts until Iyengar’s 20th century Light on Yoga. However, it does appear in the 1896 Vyayama Dipika, a manual of gymnastics, where it is described as being part of a very old sequence of danda (“staff”) exercises.
Vinyasa students will know it as part of the Sun Salutation sequences. It’s usually timed on an exhale, with the drishthi (or gaze) downwards. It can be practiced as a stand-alone posture however, and held for five or ten breaths (or more, depending on how you’re feeling!).
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga history states that Krishnamacharya learned the system of asanas (postures) and vinyasas (transitions) from the Yoga Kurunta, an otherwise unknown document apparently written 5,000 previously by Vamana Rishi. Krishnamacharya copied it out and taught it to Pattabhi Jois, from whom it came to the West. The original manuscript was supposedly destroyed by ants unfortunately and no copy survives. Chatturanga doesn’t appear in Krishnamacharya’s did Yoga Makaranda (1935) or his Yogasanagalu (c. 1941). However, the Yogasanagalu did contain tables of asanas and vinyasas, comparable to the taught system.
Is it a push up?
It’s certainly no push-over! The key difference between a press-up and chatturanga dandasana is the position of the elbows. Typically, people execute press-ups with elbows pointing outwards: for chatturanga, we keep the elbows pointing backwards.
This makes a dramatic difference to how your body supports the posture. You’ll learn the difference on the day, so we’ll say no more about that for now.
The other big difference between chatturanga and press-ups is how it’s taught. We can’t speak for anyone else, but here at Yogafurie, we are real sticklers for technique. So you’ll also learn how to engage not just your shoulders and chest, but your core and legs too – your whole body really. And that’s how you build the whole-body capability that Yoga and Hot Yoga offers…safely.
And a little symbolism never goes amiss
(This is Yoga, after all!)
Some people call chatturanga dandasana the crocodile pose, because of the similarity of body shape when arms are bent with elbows drawn back.
The crocodiles – or their freshwater counterparts, alligators – are important animals in many traditions. They symbolise leadership, intelligence, endurance and primal power.
Crocodiles evolved around 245 million years ago. They were venerated for great wisdom having survived this long. And as such, the crocodile is also seen as the primal mother.
The traditional imagery for svadhisthana chakra includes a green makra or crocodile. Svadhisthana is all about our flowing nature, how we can move joyfully through life like water playing over rocks. The makra is an emblem of the waters and it’s the vehicle of the god Varuna, lord of the sea, who has full control over this fluidity of nature.