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Chaturanga Dandasana

Ashtanga’s primary series has 60 low pushup positions.  SIXTY!

Its nearest competitor is the typical power yoga class which has about thirty and we go ahead and double that.  That’s just crazy business.

And the craziest thing of all is according to nearly every alignment blog and instruction I can find, we are all doing it wrong.  WRONG!  We drop too low and our elbow always ends up slightly BEHIND the wrist.

Even the Asthangis out there who ARE instructing the formation of a 90 degree angle, elbow over wrist – when I take their video practices and capture the chatwari’s frame … not so much.  Either I’m the only one who took geometry or our bodies are smarter, ignoring the thinking mind’s math.

No, I’m not going to picture any here but if you don’t believe me, go ahead and watch some Ashtanga YouTube videos and see for yourself.

Two complaints I DO hear from students are sore wrists and tight, painful traps.  One look at their chaturanga and I see … they move so far forward, the poor wrist are stressed with the bulk of their weight resting forward in the shoulder area that’s often strongest and yet SO overworked.

Not to mention, this all leads to an abysmal upward facing dog complete with pinching low back, bulging neck veins and no room to breathe.  Yikes!

Take a look at my hot mess below:

badchaturanga

 

But … lay off the protractor a little, give me some extra space between my hands and my feet and I may actually learn to love you.  And that’s a good thing because again – this is all x 60!

chaturanga

Now, a little truth … I don’t have the most glorious backbend.  And if I did, the angle might not be so important.  But I don’t – and so it is.  As we already know:  size matters!

Here’s where it gets sticky and I know there is disagreement, so hear me now PLEASE …

I am NOT saying the ninety degree alignment is wrong for other styles and other purposes.

I’m sure it would build wonderful strength and if I were going to hold it for any amount of time, I certainly would want the strongest (read: most dependable) part of my shoulder as my lead weight bearer.

But I practice Ashtanga vinyasa.  Function over form.  Heck, one day I’ll tap into my bandhas and I won’t even need to think traps or lats or 90 degree angles because I’ll just FLOAT.

You shouldn’t listen to me though.  Instead, here’s David Keil talking about Chaturanga Dandasana.  He’s someone to listen to.