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Chaturanga

Plank Push Up

Chaturanga

Chaturanga … plank… push up … one of your least favorite poses

Chaturanga is such a demanding posture!. It requires good alignment of the arms and shoulders, and use not only of the muscles on the back of the body, but also on the front of the body... The whole body is used, actually, to make it light and easy. This is a pivotal pose that allows upward facing dog or cobra to be open then allowing a smooth transition to a properly aligned downward facing dog…. it’s really important to keep your shoulders healthy and injury free too.

This is a pivotal pose that allows upward facing dog or cobra to be open then allowing a smooth transition to a properly aligned downward facing dog…. it’s really important to keep your shoulders healthy and injury free too.

First, it is not like a gym class pushup, with elbows out, but a refined pushup that requires fingers straight ahead (not turned in) and their elbows in (not turned out). You really want to build the strength to get here… it doesn’t come as easy as the mind expects! And it is not just the muscles you would expect but, again, the entire body working. If you are just using your upper arms then the rest of the body is hanging, dragging dead weight and making it harder on your bones, muscles and brain.

Here's how to do the pose:

Come to the push up type place and draw the head forward, press back through the heels and try to pull your toes forward. Hand’s press evenly down (finger prints, fingers, roots and palm) You ideally want your shoulders on top of your hands – a bit more towards the fingers then the wrists. (If your wrists are tight you can roll up the mat and have the wedged part under your wrist so the palm pours to the floor in to the fingers.) If your hands are too far forward then when you won’t be able to find any of the lowering down safe, comfortable or manageable at all. Ideally when you bend the elbows your elbows are on top of your wrist…

The back is one really long line from head to heels. The fronts of the body – ankles, thighs, belly, and chest – are all lifting up to support you. The back body –torso, hamstrings, calves and feet- are pressing out. Try pulling your toes to your hands - you will feel the belly get really strong. From here, feel free to place your knees on the floor, reaching them back towards the ankles rather than under the hips. (Make sure shoulders are over hands still) This maintains the length of the spine and allows you to build strength to awaken the right muscles, rather than just tire the body out.

Now, to feel the right placement of the shoulders, rotate the upper arms out… the inside of your elbow will be trying to face forward. When the elbow bend they need to come in close to the ribcage and for most of us, this is where we get lost. Slide your shoulder blades towards your waist WITH OUT squeezing them in. When they squeeze you are only creating more tension and making it harder than it needs to be.

Think about the shoulders pulling away from your ears to press your elbows back towards the hips. Feel the upper arms skating by your side ribs and you bend your elbows. The shoulders only lower to the same height as your elbows….Do not let them sink lower or the shoulders could get injured. This is why it’s best to start with the knees down – allow the body to feel the move, build the strength and awareness then move on to the next challenge. You would expect to master calculus until you understood algebra right?

When you lower down, you want the spine to be in the same straight solid place as when you are standing. This takes the entire body… draw the head forward, press back through the heels and try to pull your toes forward. Lift with the front of the thigh, hips and belly to counter act gravity as you bend just the elbows…. Nothing else should move, just the elbows bend and lower you towards 90 degrees in the elbow. Press the hands down and draws energy up the forearms, back thru the upper arms, across the chest and back, belly in, quadriceps lifting, hamstrings spreading, calves alive, heels pressing back, ball of the foot pressing down and toes pulling forward.

Entire body, right? Right!

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